A couple of months ago, we decided to partner with an incredibly dynamic girl from Montreal named Matu. She’s a great crafter, creating beautiful leather goods in her own workshop. At that time, she seemed unreachable. Today, we proudly share common products imagined together and crafted by her, and even sometimes have a drink together!
But wait, why would you partner with anyone?
We’ve learned so much from this experience. It all began with the idea of a product we wanted to sell, but didn't have skills to make. We are designers, not architects nor leather workers, obviously. We decided to find someone who could do it for us!
Right, but now where? Who? How?
When we began Baltic Club, back in November 2014, partnering sounded like a fancy thing to do when you run your business. We were hearing everyone around us saying “Hey, we’ve partnered with this hot trendy guy/awesome new company to bring you the best service in town!” and then, a really strange feeling appeared: we were afraid that nobody would want to partner – aka be friends – with us.
We reached out to friends of friends on Facebook, did some Google research, browsed markets until we spotted a couple of great workers with products we loved. We simply wrote them emails with a 100% answer rate and then, met up with those who were interested in having a beer. We began to understand that it’s all about connections and not really money or fame.
Our tips: to know if they're The one, begin by asking yourself 3 simple questions:
- Do I know them?
- Do I trust them?
- Have I already used their product?
It was quite difficult not to see similar workers or companies as competitors, but alliances can be powerful ; you may serve your clients better, combine your visibility, and add value to both sides.
Alright so how do we “set up” a partnership?
Well, we’re not a big company, there are only two of us and a dog, so we had absolutely no idea where to begin.
MISTAKE #1: NOT DOING PAPERWORK.
Unfortunately, you HAVE to write down all the details of your partnership. Be brave. What you want is to keep a healthy relationship in the long run, especially if you start something with a friend or family member. Write down what and when you will exchange, how many products, their prices, how you deal with it if everything goes wrong (or everything ends well!) and approve it on both sides. Sounds boring I know, but it's necessary. You need to talk about every detail, be honest on both sides. Don’t start too quickly especially when you don’t know your new partner. Oh and be realistic about your goals, you’re rapidly ready to conquer the world when it comes to combining strengths.
MISTAKE #2: THINKING IT’S ALL WON.
Have lunches together, meet online… we’ve lost precious partners because we weren’t capable of maintaining close relationships, a synonym of confidence. Also, like in a relationship, it’s a two-sided effort. Think long term!
MISTAKE #3: NOT KNOWING THE TYPE OF PARTNERSHIP YOU WANT TO SET UP.
Do we only talk about them? Them about us? Is it sufficient? Do we pay them only the price of goods? A salary?
Well, to choose, there’s no secret: discuss and be realistic. Do not pull strings, don’t let yourself be abused either, just be honest. Everybody has something great to bring to the table. Make a list of commitments and stick to them.
We’ve definitely realized that it’s only the beginning of a long journey made of happiness and sometimes, deceptions. Having a product you never thought you could create in your hands is so exciting. Having someone let you down when it comes to delivering items to customers is also part of the game.
If you’re also going through all these exciting highs and lows, drop us a line so that we can all congratulate each other on making things happen anyway.