We often look at Key Partners as "filling in the gaps" necessary to provide an organization's Value Proposition when the Key Resources and/or Activities are missing something. It's also a great place to go for reinventing to make it more scalable. Since Personal Models are based more on your Key Resources (your Interests, Skills, Personality, and Assets) and individuals can rarely have scalable models, recognizing your Key Partners is a much different task. A task with great potential if done well.
C.S. Lewis wrote an insightful book, The 4 Loves, about relationships from the perspective of 4 different Greek words that all can be translated into English as "love". These also make a useful framework for finding our Key Partners in Personal Business Models. We'll use that here by looking at each "love" as a potential source for model partners. That will give us the 4 types of Key Partners.
Community Partners - Greek storge
You may have personal business Key Partners because you have something in common with them.
Business Model You recommends you "Get Out!" and test your reinvented personal business model with "family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, church or professional association members, and others in your personal network." These are all examples of Community Partners. They are those acquaintances you have formed because you have something in common with them.
The Internet and its social media technologies have also developed unprecedented international "communities of interest". Our workshop philosophy is to use your Value Propositions and Purpose Statements to crystallize a Personal Brand. This Brand becomes the foundation for the differentiation of your professional services. As a Brand, it's much easier for your community partners to understand and share it. You can "Get Out" both physically and digitally to your Community Partners. While organization's may not need or have Key Partners, every person and therefore every Personal Business Model, should have at least Community Partners.
This blog is an example of reaching out to my own Community partners. My topics are not necessarily aimed at people who might be potential clients. They are an expression of my interests in the area of executive careers and I share those with people on both the right and left side of my Business Model. Reread the quote above in italics. Those are not necessarily potential customers; however, they are all potential Key Partners. You may find it personally much easier to get started reinventing with your Key Partners rather than with your potential customers. Who are they?
As an example, I am currently brokering a painting contracting business. The business started with residential clients only and the owner developed channels focused on them. The business is now enjoying an influx of commercial customers. Guess where they are coming from? Business owners who were pleased with the way their homes were painted? No! The owner developed a strong relationship with his paint supplier, who is now recommending him to businesses who call them ask for help in choosing a good painting company. PBM Key Partners frequently become customers and/or channels if treated well as Key Partners. Include them in your model.
Activity Partners - Greek phileo
You may have personal business key partners because you have something in common that makes YOU better.
These are your friends. Not only do you have something in common, you enjoy specific activities with them. I am currently thinking a commercial organization generally never has more than Community Partners but individuals have much more relationship depth and therefore the potential for more types of Key Partners. These deeper relationships can reveal an individual's multiple roles and the resulting need for multiple canvases.
Activity Key Partners can help you develop or reinvent your Personal Business Model. Not only that, they can truly enjoy doing it. Reread the story of The Musician in Business Model You with attention to the relationship between the artist and her manager. They both loved working in music and that created the synergy empowering her model's reinvention. He is an Activity Partner.
Activity Partners will help you with your Value Proposition just like all of your Community Partners but they will also co-develop it with you by helping with the entire model. Is it also possible that exposure to helping someone else with their Personal Business Model may facilitate the creation of an Activity Key Partner? It will be interesting to follow people who attend Personal Business Model workshops and determine if this happens. Will sharing your PBM development also develop your friendships?
Life Partners - Greek eros
You may have personal business key partners because you find something in each other that makes YOU better.
These Key Partners are lovers. You don't share just values with them (Community Partners) or even models with them (Activity Partners), you share your life with them. Their fundamental position in your life demands intense consideration in the development of a PBM, often to the point of requiring Multiple Canvases to accommodate them. You define yourself in terms of giving to a Life Partner. It's a demand that can exceed a requirement for additional cash flow and frequently conflicts with traditional business model goals.
To ignore these Key Partners in your business model is to invite its failure. At least that's what happened to me. I was running a successful distributorship when my primary supplier contacted me with the choice of either taking over their entire operations or risk the possibility of them going out of business. I felt I had no choice; but the results were flying back and forth weekly between the 2 locations trying to fit 2 weeks of work into each week and then spending every weekend catching-up on paperwork. I made more money than at any point in my life and also lost contact with my wife and children, When that realization hit me (very painfully), it was easy to see I had a choice and I took it. Over time, the bedrock of my Life Partner relationship was restored and I was able to reinvent new business models that now allow me to keep those Key Partner commitments.
This may be a reason I have a passion for business models. It's easy to destroy everything of real value in your life if you can't see a bigger picture. No sad stories like mine are required if you're smart. The PBM reinvention of the The Skier in Business Model You describes a much happier transition with a focus on Life Partner.
Purpose Partners - Greek agape
You may have personal business key partners because you have something in YOU that makes others better.
This is the Greek word that can be translated God's love, Sacrificial love, or perhaps Universal love. I never expected the Business Model YOU project to arrive at the concept of a Personal Purpose; but that's exactly what happened. It appears each of us has unique Key Resources and that seems to be indicative of a unique Personal Purpose. When that Purpose becomes a passion, it produces unmatched resolve (and results).
When "on purpose" you start to meet just the right people. Some of those have the same Purpose. These become your Purpose Partners. While we generally only find Community Partners in a commercial organization, Purpose Partners are often in organizations, especially NGO's, created to promote the common purpose of its members.
Small business owners and professionals often get started with a great deal of passion and energy related to their Purpose, only to see organizational needs erode it all away over time.
Personal Business Models have a very special use here. We can use them to reconnect those who originally found a way to fulfill their Purpose but are now burnt-out, back to that important Purpose. This is both personally inspiring and leads to greater service for the customers they truly need to serve.
For those looking at Retirement at any age, a Purpose-driven PBM can fill the void in life that was once occupied by an active career. Finding the right Purpose Partners might be the key to launching that new direction. For those in this position, Encore Careers is a great place to get ideas.
Examine the Key Partners section on The Green Advocate in the book for an interesting example of how dramatically this section of a business model can change when you start to consider Purpose Partners. It's also a useful example of how to reinvent yourself in one of those Encore Careers.
Key Partners play a much more complex and vital role in Personal Business Models than organizational models. When developing a PBM it's useful to make an additional effort to expand on possible Key Partners. A 4 Loves analysis is one method that directs our attention to significant relationships we may have otherwise missed. Who are your:
- Community Partners,
- Activity Partners,
- Life Partners,
- Purpose Partners?