In the 1990s, my team and I scaled FUBU from a small business in my house in Queens to a company grossing $350 million in annual worldwide sales. We were able to do that by understanding our strengths and finding partners to help us execute everything else. We knew that we excelled at creating quality apparel for males between 18 and 35 who loved hip-hop music and primarily lived in inner cities. However, we wanted to expand beyond men’s apparel into categories like women, boys, and accessories, so we found manufacturers who were experts at making those products. We also found distributors who knew how to get our products into Europe, Asia, Australia, and Latin America.
Finding those partners was intimidating and challenging, but it was essential to the success of the business. We scaled our business quickly without adding to our plate of responsibilities because we utilized their networks, knowledge, and people to help us expand.
This year, I’ve partnered with Spectrum Reach because of their long-standing commitment to being a champion of small businesses. Through their Pay It Forward program, I hosted my first of two mentoring webinars with 60 business owners to offer advice on overcoming challenges and actionable insights on accessing resources to grow their businesses. The questions that came up repeatedly during the first webinar were focused on how to scale a business. Not surprisingly, my answers were centered around the importance of partnerships, and I want to share those insights with you. Here are five types of business partners you’re going to need to develop your growth strategies.
- Rock-star managers. Scalability is a matter of delegation. You need to find managers who are problem solvers, who know how to create systems and lead. No one is going to run the business exactly like you, but you can’t wear all the hats. Try to replace yourself. If you can find someone who does a rock-star job at what you do, you’ll know you can focus on other areas of growing your business.
- Effective collaborators. Your business might need a helping hand from an outside partner. For example, if you’re manufacturing sauces or shirts, you may need to collaborate with a specialized manufacturer, and you’ll need to ask the right questions. For a manufacturer, you’d want to ask, how busy is their line? What is their current capacity? Is there a chance your business might be bumped? Is there an opportunity to negotiate, barter, or grow with the manufacturer? But don’t get too comfortable when you find one. Keep researching to see if there’s a partner who can help you more.
- Wise mentors. A series of mentors were catalysts to my success, and each one made a powerful impact on my life and businesses. You don’t need to look far to find these people. My first mentor was a local business owner in Queens. Look for people who share your challenges. Maybe someone who’s been running a stable business for 20 years, has dealt with inflation, changes in technology, and challenges with advertising to their customers. No doubt, there’s a person in your community who can teach you a thing or two.
- Strong software. Don’t get left behind. Keep up with technological developments. Software can help you with accounting, management (time, projects, customer relationships), and many of your business’s other needs. Take advantage of communication software like web conferencing, messaging, and video chatting to help with collaboration and working virtually.
- The right advertising partner. With advertising on linear and streaming TV, digital, social media, and more, the media ecosystem has never been more complex. Instead of using your time to figure it all out, you need a partner who can help you navigate the media landscape and make the complex simple.
In order to reach the customers you want, you need an advertising partner that understands your audience, your needs, your brand, and the complexity of modern marketing. They will help you choose which channels (digital, social media, TV) are going to be most effective for your brand.
I still continue to forge strategic partnerships like the one I have with Spectrum Reach to help accomplish my goals. Advertising is hard, but Spectrum Reach makes it easy. And I have confidence that if you focus on identifying these five types of business partners, you too will be on your way to increased growth and speed to scale your business.
Spectrum Reach provides the support and resources necessary to connect you with your target audiences in your local community through its data-infused marketing and advertising solutions for businesses of all sizes. We help businesses reach anyone, anywhere, on any screen. Spectrum Reach is your trusted neighbor and one-stop shop. Grow your business with the best insights, content, products, and people.
Learn more at spectrumreach.com.