by Donna Kastner
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Setting aside who first uttered this sage quote (Aristotle?), there’s much to unpack and ponder.
For Retirepreneurs, we can go solo and have some impact… OR we can join forces with other brilliant people to amplify our reach and accomplish something far greater than any of us could do on our own.
Keep in mind, while 60-somethings are outperforming 30-somethings in launching profitable businesses (latest stats show they’re 3x more successful), starting a full-blown enterprise at age 60+ isn’t top-of-mind for most Retirepreneurs.
Instead, many are striving for part-time freelance income to boost retirement savings and/or to stay engaged in work they enjoy. But many in this crowd also crave flexibility and working at a more leisurely pace, to allow more time for family, friends, travel, and other leisure activities.
Teaming up with others is an outstanding way to keep work hours in proper proportion, as project needs can be addressed by many hands, but success hinges on teaming up with the right partner.
While we’ve been graced with a few great partnerships, our latest partnering venture with Next For Me was spectacular. More about that shortly.
Finding the Right Partner
With a couple of years invested in content marketing, we’re now seeing a nice uptick in inquiries from potential partners. Keep that in mind, as you continue to sow seeds for your own encore venture. If you’re not publishing content on digital channels, it will take you much longer to garner attention and ultimately score a few fruitful partnerships.
Partnership inquiries for us tend to fall into one of three buckets:
- Scattered & Spammy
Somebody found us on the web. Now they’re looking to pitch their offerings, but here’s the rub: Their intro message is all about them. We’re quite vocal about what matters to us. It takes just minutes of Googling to find a stronger hook, but they skipped this crucial step. Show Me You Know Me – that’s the mantra for partnerships. Alas, the 80/20 rule prevails, with about 80% of inquiries falling in this bucket.
- Somewhat Intriguing
They called out something that matters to us. For this second group, an email volley will follow to determine if a discovery call might be beneficial. Typically, 50% advance to a discovery conversation. The others might be put on the side burner for discovery later.
- Gold Circle
Every now and then, an inquiry catches my full attention, often referencing something we’ve published. But catching attention is only the start, because now we’ll scan their website, LinkedIn profile, etc. If they’re sharing helpful content that aligns with our point of view, we’re all in. On the other hand, if there’s not much in the way of digital presence, we’ll likely pass.
Our Latest Gold Circle Partnership Win: Next For Me
After a three-hour drive and a quick bite to eat, I was preparing to host an evening Retirepreneur workshop in Dayton, OH. Suddenly an email caught my eye.
It was from Jeff Tidwell, founder of Next For Me. The name sounded familiar. Within minutes, I realized this organization was already on my radar screen, because I was enjoying articles they were publishing – especially the dozens on Forbes.com that chronicled Jeff’s own start-up journey.
Jeff’s first message was brief, but compelling. One more thing: Rather than putting his organization in the subject line, he put ours. This might strike you as a small detail, but it can make a difference.
Fast forward ten months and we’ve just wrapped up a successful “Too Young To Be Done: What’s Next for YOU?” workshop tour across Ohio. Here are a few takeaways about this magnificent partnership that resonated for me:
- Video calls speed up and enrich discovery conversations
You’re not crazy about seeing yourself on video. I get it – I felt that way too, but I’ve pushed beyond my comfort zone to master this video stuff and it’s making a huge difference. While nothing will rival face-to-face conversations, when the other person is 2,000+ miles away, video closes that gap quite nicely. Video tip: Don’t peer down into your laptop – not exactly a flattering look for Modern Elders. Make sure the camera is a bit higher and test out lighting options before your video call.
- Sharing the Spotlight: Competition vs Co-opetition
We were both addressing similar markets. Namely, folks in their 50s and 60s who are pondering some kind of encore career chapter. It’s a huge market that’s exploding. We could be guarded (silly strategy embraced by many) or we could pull out the stops to shine a spotlight on cool things our new partner is doing. Happily, Next For Me opted for the latter and we did, too. With each share, momentum picked up and we both enjoyed a nice uptick on website traffic, too.
- Ease up on the perfectionist tendencies
In the months leading up to our Ohio workshop tour, we were both very busy. Still, we managed to advance workshop planning steps beautifully, often leveraging Google docs and other online tools. In our travels from one workshop location to the next, we also engaged in some incredible debrief conversations that helped us fine-tune our plan a bit more. Did we slam dunk every last detail? No, but we managed to address all the important needs solidly. While our presentation styles were different, they were complementary and with each iteration, the partner chemistry blossomed. The common ground we shared was around our extra-mile commitment to the workshop participants — in welcoming them, listening to them, learning more about their needs and in helping them to conquer roadblocks and advance faster with their own plan.
We’re both back to our day-to-day worlds, thousands of miles apart, but the sharing continues, especially around strategies to form more vibrant online communities where peer-to-peer conversations started at the live workshops can continue.
Stay tuned – I suspect more great gems from our partnership with Next For Me are yet to come.
PS: Next For Me recently partnered on a housing survey with Silvernest, an online home sharing platform that pairs boomers, retirees, empty nesters and other older adults with compatible housemates for long-term rent arrangements. Click here for highlights from this fascinating report!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Having spent a good portion of her career as an event experience design consultant, Donna’s now building a dynamic collaboration community for executives age 55+ who are striving to make a smooth segue from full-time job to part-time consulting gig. With Retirepreneur.com, Donna’s championing a movement to help others design flexible and fulfilling encore careers.