Counter-Intuitive Logic When Choosing Strategic Alliances or Joint Ventures

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In the typical joint venture, all involved parties spell out the goals, quantify the financial investment and expected ROI, put structured project management in place, assign leadership, and measure progress. Lawyers and contracts are typically involved so everyone’s interests are fairly represented and protected. Joint venture partners hold one another accountable.  In my experience, most joint ventures are time limited.  However, when they are successful, the venture partners tend to look for ways to continue as venture partners.

It’s odd, actually.  In most of the joint ventures in which our clients have participated, they could well have served as their own attorneys.  Bear with me here.  I am not disrespecting the value lawyers bring to deals. I am simply observing that when the leaders of a few complementary companies decide to work together to accomplish something they clearly could not have done alone, the Presidents or their CFOs can (and do) summarize the terms of the relationship on one sheet of paper. When there is a great fit and clarity of complementary purpose some of the formality feels redundant.

OK.  So what about strategic alliances?

As a President of a midsized business you undoubtedly know that joint ventures are more structured than strategic alliances.  Perhaps you have experienced fuzzy goals, little reference to ROI, open ended expectations for continued investment, no project management or progress measurement, etc.  Of course all of that lack of clarity invites participants to have “one foot in the door and the other one out.” It’s no surprise that the over whelming majority of strategic alliances end by simply drifting away from one another.

Ironically, strategic alliances are most often forged around marketing.  (As a reminder, one of my master’s degrees is in business marketing, so don’t throw stones at me here.)  Marketing is notorious for fuzzy goals, too little accountability, not enough focus on ROI, subjectivity, and inadequate project management.

Wouldn’t we all be better served if we used the rigor of joint ventures when it comes to shared marketing?  The elements of the JV process could bring the clarity needed to drive far more marketing-related successes.

About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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