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How A Virtual Assistant Can Help You Build Strategic Partnerships


Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

10 minute read

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“If you want to go fast, go alone—if you want to go far, go together.” This proverb highlights the essential role that strategic partnerships can play in sustainable business growth.

Partnerships can be a lifeline for small businesses and entrepreneurs, offering advantages such as increased resources, shared knowledge, and expanded market reach.

However, making these partnerships happen is no small feat for a small business owner, especially if you're juggling all your different roles as CEO, marketer, customer service representative, and more. This is where a virtual assistant (VA) steps in.

Below, we will explore the benefits of building strategic partnerships and how a virtual assistant for small business can play a key role in establishing and nurturing these relationships.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant, or VA, is your remote right hand or behind-the-scenes partner, operating remotely to handle various tasks that can bog down your day. They're independent contractors who provide administrative, executive, or personal support from a distance, usually from their home office.

VAs usually handle routine tasks like managing emails, scheduling meetings, data entry, financial admin, conducting online research, and assisting with marketing efforts.

One of the most appealing benefits for business owners is the flexibility. When you hire virtual assistants through a fully managed service, their support usually comes through monthly packages or subscriptions based on how much support you need.

Not only that, but you can easily scale your support hours up or down depending on your current workload and business demands. With a virtual assistant, you can breathe easy knowing you'll always have access to the support you need when you need it—without the commitment and overhead costs associated with full-time, in-house staff.

What's more, this usually makes it a much more cost-effective solution. Because you only pay for their productive time spent working on your administrative tasks, and you don't need to provide office space, equipment, or employee benefits, you could save up to 90% of your annual staffing costs.


The power of strategic partnerships for businesses

Teaming up with the right partner can open the door to a range of benefits that can take your business to the next level. Here’s what you could expect:

Generating more revenue

Partnering with another business can boost your bottom line. This might come from tapping into your partner’s customer base, offering bundled services, or even co-creating products that appeal to a broader audience. Take Microsoft, for example, which derives 95% of its commercial revenue from its partner ecosystem, growing by an impressive 7,500 partners monthly.

Similarly, Zoom's partnerships have boosted its business, with channel partners accounting for 40% of its operations in Japan and over 70% with the U.S. Federal Government in 2021.

Expanding market reach

According to a McKinsey report, companies are always on the lookout for partners with complementary capabilities that open doors to new markets and channels. This could mean getting your products or services in front of a fresh audience without the legwork of starting from square one.

Whether it’s geographic expansion, accessing a niche market, or simply gaining exposure to your partner’s network, these collaborations can extend your reach further than you might manage on your own.

Accessing new resources

Sometimes, the biggest advantage is pooling resources. By collaborating with partners, you can gain access to valuable resources like technology, expertise, customer bases, and infrastructure that might be difficult or expensive to acquire on your own. This way, you can share the costs and reap the benefits of high-quality resources that can help take your business to the next level.

Fostering innovation

When you collaborate with partners, especially those from different sectors or with diverse skills, you’re setting the stage for innovation.

A Harvard Business Review article backs this up, reporting that 94% of tech executives consider innovation partnerships vital to their strategies. This cross-pollination of ideas can lead to unique solutions and advancements that can give your business an edge over competitors.


The hurdles of building strategic partnerships

Forging strategic partnerships is a smart move for growth, but it comes with its fair share of headaches. First, there’s the big issue of time.

As a small business owner, you’re already spinning a lot of plates—running the day-to-day, pushing your business forward, and maybe even grabbing a coffee in between. So, finding the time to scout the right partners, work out the details, and keep the relationship strong can be, well, a lot!

Then there’s the matter of resources. Kicking off and keeping up partnerships often means putting money, people, and tools on the line. For many small outfits, these resources aren’t just lying around, which can make starting potential partnerships a bit of a stretch.

And let’s not get started on communication barriers. According to an IMD report, many partnerships hit snags due to conflicting goals and incentives, unclear roles, trouble communicating what you both bring to the table, or just treating external partners like another departmental silo. If you're not careful, these issues can throw a major wrench in the works.

How to overcome the hurdles

How do you leap over these obstacles without breaking a sweat? It boils down to two magic words: organization and delegation.

To keep everything running smoothly, especially when you're aiming to grow through partnerships, staying organized is non-negotiable.

This means having a clear system for tracking potential and current partnerships, setting follow-up reminders, and keeping all your partnership-related documents in one easily accessible spot. Organizing your tasks and knowing who's responsible for what makes a massive difference.

And then there's delegation. You can’t do everything yourself; trying to might just slow you down. In the famous words of Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, "If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you've got to learn to delegate."


Building strategic partnerships with the help of virtual assistants

A virtual assistant is a powerhouse resource that can take care of so much nitty-gritty work involved in building and keeping up strategic partnerships. Here's how they can help make your life easier:

Researching potential partners based on specific criteria

Finding the right businesses can make or break your success with these strategic initiatives. Getting this step right is important, and, luckily, it’s exactly where your virtual assistant can shine.

They can conduct market research into industry trends and gather valuable insights into which businesses complement your operations and ethos, as well as resonate with your target audience.

They can prepare detailed profiles of prospective strategic partners, saving you hours of groundwork. With their help, you can cut through the noise and make sure you're looking at viable, valuable connections right from the get-go.

Initial outreach and communication with prospective partners

Of course, simply lining up your potential options isn't enough for your business to reap the benefits of a strategic partnership. You'll need to reach out to these third parties to discuss collaborating together. But, unfortunately, we all know just how time-consuming this process can be.

That's why a skilled virtual assistant is a great solution.

With a little guidance and direction from you, they can craft personalized emails that really resonate with potential partners, highlighting mutual benefits and the value of collaboration.

Scheduling appointments and follow-ups to nurture relationships

While skilled virtual assistants can save you a lot of valuable time by handling a lot of the back-and-forth communication between your business and potential partners, there may be occasions where both parties will need to speak directly.

But staying on top of all the follow-ups and meetings necessary to acquire, maintain, or grow your strategic partnerships can be tough when you have so much else going on in your packed schedule.

This is where a virtual assistant can step in and help take care of it all, scheduling calls and meetings at convenient times for everyone. They’ll manage your calendar perfectly and send reminders to keep everything running smoothly.


Promoting your partnerships

You could team up with the biggest and best brand partner for your business, but what's the use if your customers don't know about it?

When you think about how much time and effort goes into creating engaging content for your social media platforms, drafting press releases, sending out newsletters, and so on, making sure that your customers are not only aware but also excited about your collaboration can be much easier said than done when you're running everything by yourself.

This is another area where hiring virtual assistants can be a brilliant move for business owners. With plenty of guidance, a skilled virtual assistant can help you spread the word about your exciting new partnership through various marketing channels.

You can rest assured that your promotional campaigns, product launches, and exclusive offers get the attention they deserve while you're free to focus on essential tasks that drive business growth.

Data management and organization of partnership-related information

Keeping track of all your strategic partnerships' details can easily become a headache, but you don't have to tackle it alone. Virtual assistants can be your personal information organizer, keeping everything neat and accessible so that nothing slips through the cracks.

Your VA can organize all partnership-related information—from contact details to contracts and meeting notes. They can set up a system where all essential data is sorted, labeled, and stored in a way that makes sense for your business.

Whether you need to pull up a previous conversation before a big meeting or track the progress of ongoing negotiations, virtual assistants can help make sure you have all the information you need at your fingertips.

Monitoring partnership progress and providing regular updates

Keeping tabs on all the moving parts of your strategic partnership can be like trying to watch multiple TV channels at once without wanting to miss a single moment. Luckily, your trusty virtual assistant can handle it for you.

Skilled virtual assistants can use project management tools to keep track of tasks and timelines to help make sure all parties are meeting their obligations and deadlines.

With the right instructions, they regularly monitor KPIs and relay the information you need in easy-to-read updates. Whether you prefer to check in weekly, monthly, or quarterly, these reports give you a clear snapshot of your partnerships' performance.

Plus, this ongoing tracking helps catch any issues early on, giving you the chance to make changes or nip them in the bud before they turn into bigger problems.

Providing administrative support during partnership negotiations and collaborations

When you're in the midst of negotiating a partnership, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and bogged down by all the other administrative tasks involved in running your business.

Just think, how much easier would your life be if someone else took care of all the back-office tasks on your to-do list that keep your business operations running smoothly?

The good news is that you don't have to let these small details distract you from sealing the deal.

As well as conducting market research, scheduling appointments, and creating social media posts, virtual assistants can handle everything from email management and data entry to customer support and travel planning.

With less stress and overwhelm from tackling a never-ending list of repetitive tasks, you free up valuable mental energy to concentrate on what truly matters: making informed business decisions, negotiating the best terms, fostering relationships, and steering your new business partnership towards success.


What’s the bottom line?

Hiring a virtual assistant to help build and nurture strategic partnerships is more than just easing your workload—it's about amplifying your potential for growth and success.

With a virtual assistant handling the nuts and bolts of research, communication, and coordination, you can truly make the most out of every valuable opportunity to expand your reach and boost your bottom line.

So, if you've been struggling to balance the constant demands of your administrative duties with cultivating strategic partnerships, a virtual assistant could be just what you need.

And when it comes to choosing the right virtual assistant, Time etc is here for you.

Since 2007, our mission has been to help business owners feel less stressed and more in control by matching them with the best virtual assistants to tackle all those time-consuming tasks that stand in the way of their goals.

Each step of the way, we carefully assess your unique needs to make sure you get the right support you need to succeed.

Ready to give it a shot?

Speak to our expert team to get started, and we'll handle the rest! We’ll set you up with a professional assistant based on the skills and experience you need.

Still on the fence?

You can try us out for free to get a feel for how we work.

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About the author

Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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