Consumer demand is becoming increasingly more complex, and businesses must scale while remaining nimble. But companies can\u2019t \u201cbe everything\u201d to their customers. In an effort to cover customer needs, enterprises employ creative innovation strategies, new product development, imaginative digital marketing and even costly qualitative acquisitions.\nAs the need to provide a greater array of services becomes more apparent, strategic partnerships have emerged as an opportunity to help enterprise businesses scale. Many organizations are experiencing remarkable, incidental innovation and growth by partnering with providers to meet their customers\u2019 needs. Make sure your organization doesn\u2019t get stuck on the sidelines!\nA tale of two partner types\nDifferent types of partners can serve your business customers in varying ways, thus producing a variety of possibilities and benefits. Two primary types have surfaced again and again as continual drivers of the trend.\n1. Platform partners\nVetting, training, and certifying developers to gain and employ API-Ievel access is a high-reward move companies make to add functionality not previously available to their commercial customers.\nFor example, a multi-location restaurant may discover (within a partnership integration) an on-premise accounting solution that collects previously unsaved data from the point of sale. With the right integration, the commerce data, the date-and-time data, the payment data \u2014 and more \u2014 of every transaction can now be fed directly into an application that could generate both the monthly accounting and the regular tax filing.\nIf the food and beverage example represents a smaller-scale visual, then consider when that restaurant, candlemaker, tutor, merchant, courier, salon, or local service provider, for example, begins to grow. Their complex needs will likely work with your (also expanding) products for a time, and they may even be able to \u201cengineer\u201d simple integrations on their own. But the more complex their unique needs, the more help they\u2019ll need.\nHaving built trust, they\u2019ll turn to your company for that help. If professional services are not within your strategy, platform partners can provide that consulting work.\n2. Agency and reseller partners\nThese partners often build new functionality and help extend a company\u2019s current reach, allowing them to reach new audiences. A good example is when an agency helps a large commercial client build a website with you or your channel partners. Meanwhile, resellers whose technology expands and enables yours would, put simply, resell your products.\nA more creative way forward\nDisruptions in traditional growth tactics have prompted enterprises to think creatively about other players in the space. We know that 90 percent of innovation labs fail, new products rarely deliver, ad fraud and opacity plague media buys, and over half of mergers go awry.\nUnrelated suppliers are increasingly considered valuable resources, and unexplored markets are now viable for business.\nMore enterprises have realized that their customers\u2019 many unique, multidimensional needs are out of their scope. Conventional wisdom addresses that predicament by encouraging businesses to \u201cfocus on one thing, and do it well,\u201d which serves to ameliorate that frustration \u2014 but only temporarily. Strategic partnerships, on the other hand, enable new experiences that enterprises don\u2019t have to build directly. And that puts those monumental possibilities back within reach.\nGetting started with building strategic partnerships\nWhile it may sound time-consuming and complicated, the steps to building your own partnership program aren\u2019t as daunting as you think. The first (and perhaps most important) step is to define what you\u2019re looking to get out of your partnerships. Decide if you are looking to create new product experiences, explore new areas and audiences, or alleviate workflow burdens. Or maybe all of the above. Next, decide what partnership model will best serve the unique needs of your business.\nThen, evaluate the potential partners that you want to work with. Consider what they can offer you and what you can offer them in return, in order to set yourself up for a productive and worthwhile partnership for both companies.\nOnce you\u2019ve identified the type of partners you\u2019d like to work with, grade them. The criteria may vary by organization, but there are a few tried and true questions to ask yourself when assessing how valuable a partnership will be.\n\nWhat market do I need to reach? Will this partner be effective in reaching them?\nDoes this partner complement my product?\nHow will this partner help my organization reach our stated goals?\nHow likely are your partner\u2019s customers to purchase your product?\n\nFrom there, categorize your ideal partners by A and B targets (based on how well they meet the above criteria) and then start engaging them. It\u2019s worth noting that when you\u2019re first starting out, don\u2019t gloss over your B targets - they may be more accessible and willing to take a chance on your organization.\nFinally, it\u2019s critical to continue collaborating with and strengthening your partnerships through constant partner management and nurturing. You\u2019ll start driving growth in no time.