Ask the experts

Ask the experts: Partnerships can bring in big business

CorrespondentJuly 1, 2013 

Steve Rutherford, owner of Rutherford Communications.

RUTHERFORD COMMUNICATIONS

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Partnering with larger companies can be advantageous for small businesses.

Steve Rutherford, owner of Charlotte-based Rutherford Communications, which offers video production and digital signage solutions, said partnerships can bring widespread benefits. He regularly works with larger businesses.

“There is a lot of gain across the board, financially and what you learn along the way. There’s no way you’re going to pick this kind of thing up doing your day-to-day business stuff.”

For small businesses looking to expand their scope, adding employees or equipment can be very expensive.

“To grow your business, you have to have the capacity,” Rutherford said. “How do you create capacity? Partner with other people.”

In 2010, the Charlotte Mint Museum’s opening presented an opportunity to collaborate with others. Total Event Production, a small lighting, audio and video company in Charotte, partnered with an event planner to produce an opening based on what the museum wanted to showcase.

“We historically don’t do event design from start to finish,” said Jim Ablard, director of business development for Total Event Production. “(The event planner) stepped in between (the) client and us to figure out what the client wanted to do.”

Collaboration can be extremely beneficial if a company understands its clients’ needs well enough to know that help from another company would produce the best results.

“Different companies have different strengths, and by collaborating … everyone can bring the best possible end product to the client,” Ablard said.

Hesitation to enter into a new partnership can be natural. Working together can expose your client relationships, services and capabilities to the other company.

Rutherford suggests that small companies fully investigate a proposed project and what would be expected of them before signing on. Knowing the value of what you provide will help you get a fair piece of the partnership benefits, including pay for the project.

Successful collaborations, whether they are one-time or develop into repeated partnerships on projects, can lead to more business leads and exposure to new markets.

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