THE CRITICAL STEP OF PARTNERING WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

June 15, 2017
06. The Critical Step Of Partnering With Your Community

When we teach the Business Model Canvas process in our incubator, we stress how the “Partners” box is one of the three most important boxes.  Why? Because we believe in the power of team, because we believe your cause ought to be bigger than just you, and because your Kingdom impact is multiplied when you partner with others outside of your organization. 

I had coffee this morning with a partner of FiveTwo.  He’s a 35-year-old development director for a non-profit in Michigan.  What makes him a partner in my eyes? Simple: He shares our values (sacramental faith, entrepreneurial spirit, wants to reach new people for Jesus by starting new things, cause-driven and action-oriented) AND He possesses knowledge those in our network, including me, need.  He knows how to help people grow in generosity by presenting them opportunities to be generous.

In other words, we share common values AND both possess knowledge and skills that can help each other.  When we work together, a mutual sharpening happens.

I ended the meeting asking if I could reach out in the future and get his thoughts on some decisions I was facing.  He said, “For sure!”

How do we use the word “partner” in our StartNew incubator?  Someone outside of your org who will help you bring the value you are seeking to bring and allow you to do the same.

They may provide a product or a piece of wisdom.  You may have a formal, contractual relationship or simply a platonic friendship.  Regardless of the level of definition, this individual is critical to you delivering what you believe Jesus is calling you to deliver.  And in turn, by partnering with you, they are somehow accomplishing what they want to accomplish.

Obviously, some partnerships are more critical than others. But the broader your partner-net, the wider your impact. 

Who do we need, outside of our team, to help us bring the value we want to bring, and by partnering with them, we help them succeed as well? How would you answer that question?

Congregations typically fail to consider community leaders their partners.  They look internally rather than externally. They wrongly limit partners to members-only. By failing to invite their neighbors to join them in ministry, they fail to utilize an incredible, divine resource. And even more sad, they fail to develop a two-way relationship that could have eternal Kingdom benefits.

Where do you find those partners?

  1. Go inward first. Make a list of the things your new start is going to do really, really well.  Who do you need to involve to do those things excellently?  Then, make a list of the things you wish you could do, but don’t have the bandwidth to do excellently.  Who could you partner with?  This tactic creates respect for the partners you want to involve.  It also helps you see how you could bring value to them, and vice versa.  
  2. Go where community leaders gather.  Join the chamber of commerce in your community.  If your chamber isn’t active or influential, join the equivalent – rotary club, HoA, etc…  And when you go, don’t be a wall-flower. Introduce yourself, ask questions, and listen.
  3. Go to your business neighbors. Ask them about their business and where they want to succeed.  Thoughtfully consider how you can help them and offer that assistance.  Maybe the best way you can help them is by introducing them to someone else who can.
  4. Go digital.  Send emails to key community leaders with the subject line, “I’m new here, how can I help you?”.  Ask if you could have 1 hour of their time to hear about the problems they’re looking to solve in the community.  Ask questions that help you determine the org’s values, and if their values and mission could support or align with yours. 

 Enlisting partners – true, mutually-blessing partners – in your startup will maximize both the quality and return on your efforts.

BY BILL WOOLSEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FIVETWO NETWORK.

Seven Steps to Start: A Sacramental Entrepreneur's Guide To Launching Startups That Thrive (Bundle of 25)
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