THE WINGMAN MODEL: BE A PARTNERPRENEUR
BEING A GOOD ‘PARTNERPRENEUR’ CAN GIVE YOU AN EDGE IN MODERN BUSINESS: TEN REASONS WHY
There is an Entrepreneur: a person who sets up a business or businesses taking on financial risk in the hope of profit. That is probably the most overused words in business at the moment after ‘disrupter’ or ‘digital transformation’. Everyone is now an ‘entrepreneur’… sharp graduates don’t aspire to work in investment banks or management consultancies anymore, they want to be entrepreneurs and work in start-ups…being an entrepreneur has become the mainstream.
Then there is the Solopreneur: a person who sets up a business with no intention of ever adding staff. This is a clear lifestyle choice with the aim of having a lifestyle business (unless you can automate and scale your product or service yourself without needing others in your business which is very unusual/unlikely!) However, I don’t want to work on my own. I am a social being and I get the best out of myself when working with others (especially when they know how to get the best out of me). Also, to quote the late Steve Jobs:
There is the Intrapreneur: the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organisation. But so many large organisations are toxic (CLICK HERE for my thoughts on that…). You often have it as a side hustle yet still have to deliver the day job. If you can genuinely crack being an intrapreneur there is no doubt there are advantages to being within a bigger organisation to adopt, fast track and utilise your ideas… Ultimately if the venture fails you still have the day job. It gives you a chance to experiment, innovate, learn and lead while still having the security blanket of your job. But so many people feel stifled or get frustrated at the red tape and speed at which they can implement within organisations…
You can also find Couplepreneurs: Couples owning and running businesses together. I will not judge. But it sounds like a recipe for disaster for most I am sure (not all)!!!! I love my wife but it’s not for us…
So, I would like to add one definition that I, throughout my career, have naturally grown into/ been most comfortable with, and feel should be a term or approach used more in business:
I define it as “a business owner who sets out from the start to partner with others to create new commercial opportunities, joint ventures and collaborative products and services”…
As a partnerpreneur you maximise partnerships to drive your business. You’re an expert at this. The mindset and model can always be best summarised as “two heads are better than one”. I have created joint ventures with partners to drive various areas of my business. It enables me to be a business hyphenate (CLICK HERE to understand more) and accelerate multiple areas simultaneously. It’s a little bit like conducting an orchestra but you are also helping play some of the instruments with the musicians. But to avoid spinning too many plates, you stick to what you know and manage the partnerships so that the other partner(s) brings something new to you. I have found this to be by far the most rewarding and productive approach.
The Wingman model sees us partnering with multiple others. We seek out partnerships that often provide specific products or services. We like to go 50-50 in a joint venture with each partner so that the rewards and expectations on input are clearly shared and defined.
There are of course different levels to ‘partnerships’. From a legally-binding joint venture in terms of limited partnerships in a business to marketing partnerships (sponsorships, brand partnerships etc) as well as R&D partnerships. It can also be a simple partnership through a friendship for trusted advice.
What I have found to be effective for me, and as perfectly put by Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco in 2016:
And it’s not just me, Chuck Robbins or Charles Darwin thinking this. A PWC CEO survey found that:
Here are ten reasons I believe adopting a “partnerpreneurial” mindset and model in business can give you a competitive advantage:
1) Leveraging your strengths and mitigating your weaknesses. Partnering with others that get the best out of you and also help alleviate your shortcomings…Note self-awareness is key here (know you and your business first to know what you need to complement and add value).
2) Better problem solving and ideation. I personally work best bouncing ideas and thoughts of others…a different perspective, the ability of the other person to build on your idea and see an angle you may not have. I work best hearing other people’s ideas and building on them with them.
3) Forced clarity. The key to a successful partnership is clear goals coupled with roles and responsibilities. It forces you to agree in advance what success looks like and how best to get there together with others. When clarified, the shared vision/mission/purpose provides the north star to guide you forward.
4) Accountability – having others to keep you focused, on track, disciplined on the end goal. You don’t want to let the others down, they can set you deadlines and force you to report back your output/ effectiveness. A good partnerpreneur sticks to their promises on deliverables and a great one often goes over and above…
5) New audiences - Effective partnerships can mean the exchange of audiences e.g. community, followers and customers…you are getting two audiences/networks for the price of one. Often the association with the partners also has a halo effect on your brand and vice versa.
6) Advocates - New salesmen/women, network and outlet, ideally offering twice as many doors to open vs what you had on your own. What is better than having others selling your products and services in for you with a vested interest to succeed?
7) Brand Partnerships: Forging a strategic relationship with a relevant partner/brand where assets are traded or co-created for mutual brand and commercial benefit. Think Apple and Nike+ running… putting two companies together to create something transformational that they wouldn’t have been able to create on their own. In cases like this, 1+1 can = 3…
8) Shared risk. If you both have skin in the game or have something to lose, you will both be driven to succeed. It could also mean spreading the risk e.g. up front, shared R&D and infrastructure costs. Pooling resource can often mean economies of scale. Having different partners for revenue streams can also enable you to diversify/spread your risk.
9) Shared responsibility: It’s often said it’s lonely at the top. Having others to share the responsibility and stress can be healthy! I make clients do exercise with me. Getting someone outdoors, into a state of flow, downloading the things that are keeping them awake at night – offloading helps share the problem or responsibility as I am now there to offer help.
10) The thrill of doing it with and for others: As a solopreneur, it must be rewarding to see success built off your own back with only you to take the credit. But I’ve always preferred team sports and celebrating a win with others. This can also be the satisfaction of helping others as a partnerpreneur. It feels like a bigger win when you win with others vs alone. Helping others is one of the most rewarding activities you can do in life.
Overall, as a partnerpreneur you are looking for and putting yourself in the best possible position to find the ‘magic dust’: Moments happen e.g. ideas, innovations, savings, connecting dots - that just wouldn’t have happened solo. You must put you or your company in that position for good things to happen….
I have decided as a partnerpreneur that my motto is as follows: