Size matters. Yet the majority business owners have an ineffective strategy of getting big.

Approaching a growth strategy on your own, without leveraging through larger organisations, is one of the quickest ways to ensure you remain small.

When I reflect on the businesses I have had that didn’t go well, and the businesses I’ve started since that have gone well, the main difference is that with the businesses that did go well we adopted a leveraged approach to finding new customers.

Rather than cold-calling, trying to set up meetings with companies that didn’t know us or spending money on sterile advertising, I started to leverage through the lists of other businesses.

When we started MBE Education, a company that helps small to medium businesses raise money from investors, buy businesses and sell businesses, we had ambitious growth targets that simply weren’t going to be achieved if we adopted the ‘same old’ approach.

We created a strategic partnership with another business that had a list of 120,000 business owners, that were all interested in growing and expanding their business, but had never been taught how to raise money, buy a business or sell their business.

The company itself was also looking for new products and services that would add value to their existing database so they can broaden their service offering.

After three meetings with this company, we set up a partnership whereby they would market our services to their database of 120,000 business owners who were actively looking to expand, and we would give them a percentage of the revenue we earned from any clients that came from them.

What this enabled us to do was reach 120,000 highly targeted prospects in way which wasn’t ‘cold’ and pushy but rather through a referral from a company they already had a relationship with and trusted. And all of this with $0 outlay and three meetings.

12 months later in 2009, we were listed in the Fastest 50 Growing Start-Ups in Australia by SmartCompany, all of the back of one successful strategic partnership.

A strategic partnership is simply a win-win relationship between two complementary businesses.

As an early stage business if you can develop some consistent partnerships with complementary businesses that drive you new customers on a continual basis, then you have put yourself in a very leveraged position where customers find you. This is one aspect of building an attraction model.

Strategic partnerships are the fastest and most effective way for any startup or early stage business to win customers and accelerate growth on a shoestring budget.