What Is a Business Partner: A Breakdown for Growth-Focused MSP

What Is a Business Partner: A Breakdown for Growth-Focused MSP

The business landscape has become more and more complex over the past few decades, and this has been exacerbated by the increasing use of tech to enhance transactions, respond to customers and generally make the customer experience a more effective one. Those asking “what is a business partner” can find that there is no single role in many cases. Instead, companies must rely on a variety of business partners to ensure that their business is competitive.

This means that the role of the business partner is a multifaceted one, and it can incorporate MSPs, vendors, financial advisers, advertisers and many others. By leveraging the role of a trusted business partner, MSPs can build their customer bases heavily.

Definition: What Is a Business Partner?

A business partner is anyone who acts as a trusted advisor for your business while being outside your business. You might think of a typical investor-focused TV show, such as Shark Tank (US) or Dragon’s Den (UK), where people make a pitch and they may get funding or may not. The investors act as a business partner because it’s their knowledge, not just their money, that is critical here. They can help boost the business’ profile, introduce them to potential market and have a solid understanding of what it takes to get a product to market — or even in specific stores.

However, most business partners focus on a specific aspect of business. Let’s take a few examples:

What Is a Business Partner: A Breakdown for Growth-Focused MSP

Strategic partner

A strategic partner is a partner business that focuses on the sharing of resources. Typically, they don’t compete with the business itself, acting as a complementary unit. In the world of unified communications, RingCentral might be seen as a strategic partner of Avaya and Mitel, as the company offers cloud unified communications to complement the on-prem systems of those two.

However, a strategic partner can limit your offerings, especially if there is a risk of crossover. As Mitel has discovered, a strategic partnership can confuse your direction and can make it harder to establish credibility when you produce your own version of a strategic partner’s solution. For MSPs, this is worth watching out for, as it’s usually a sign that the overall business strategy of a vendor is a little murky.

Financial partners

This one is fairly straightforward: a financial partner works to handle and support your finances. They could be accountants, or they could be financial professionals who provide everything from forecasting to analysis, to strategy.

Companies such as KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and Ernst & Young (known collectively as the Big Four) offer a full range of financial services to businesses. In many cases, they function as financial partners, helping companies understand how they can grow — they are the perfect example when asking what is a business partner for finance. MSPs can use financial business partners to understand how to build their businesses and grow further.

Technology partners

Technology partnerships typically function either as a vendor relationship or as an integrator relationship. Unified communications is full of technology partnerships, and Wildix is one of them, providing the technologies that MSPs use as a base for their offerings — a vital service, we feel. When asking how to partner with a company, this is typically what MSPs go for. However, Wildix also has technology partnerships, notably in the form of AWS, which allows it to offer its services globally.

Essentially, by running from AWS servers, it gives Wildix unlimited scalability, but it also ensures that those who need data held in specific countries for legal purposes can do so. That’s one of the big benefits of having a technology partner such as AWS. And it’s also one of the big benefits of having a global technology partner such as Wildix — global reach, solid branding and growing recognition.

Similarly, MSPs can take these technology partnerships and become the trusted advisor that end-users need when considering what system to install in their business. After all, most end-users don’t fully appreciate the full breadth of technologies available, and as an MSP, you need to ensure they have communications that help them grow.

What Is a Business Partner: A Breakdown for Growth-Focused MSP

Supply chain partners

It’s easy to get these confused with suppliers. The big difference between a supplier and a supply chain partner is that the supply chain partner delivers the service while the supplier delivers the goods. Essentially, your agreement with the supply chain partner means that they will get the goods to you when you need them and where you need them, understanding exactly how your business functions. In this respect, they act as a trusted adviser for your supply chain needs. Overall, they reduce costs by keeping the supplies you need for your products on track.

This means that the question of “what is a business partner” isn’t quite as simple as it initially seems. There are further subdivisions, and there are many partnership pros and partnership cons to consider.

Breaking It Down: Business Partner Roles

For many small companies, the role of the business partner is all-encompassing — they may act as a general advisor on most aspects of the business. However, to get the best results, you often have to go with expertise. That’s why so many businesses use MSPs as a trusted business partner because you know telephony and understand their needs. This role allows you to provide the services they require with the flexibility they need for the future.


Strategic roles are just like strategic roles within the organization. The business partner brings their knowledge and expertise to the table, helping the business understand where it is and where it needs to go. Typically, strategy involves setting long-term goals that the business can achieve, sometimes forcing complete mindset changes.

The strategic roles can cover everything from finances to technology, to commercials. Trusted consultants can heavily change a business and make it more profitable. However, there is a danger in that some consultants are heavily focused on providing what the C-suite wishes to hear. McKinsey & Co, for example, is widely credited with boosting CEO pay astronomically through its theory that higher pay and bonuses would attract top talent. That is obviously appealing to CEOs who hire the company to make the case for increasing their pay.

The ultimate result was that CEO pay heavily spiraled upwards while staff pay often decreased in real terms. Consequently, businesses are now struggling to hire top talent at the lower levels, and there doesn’t seem to be any measurable impact on the bottom line — paying a CEO a lot of money doesn’t mean that you get more, as numerous companies (including Avaya) have found.

So when looking for a business partner, make sure they aren’t just telling you what you want to hear.

Operational support

It’s operations that must put the strategic ideas into practice. Typically, these operational partners will help you with your day-to-day operations, whether it’s putting supply chains in place, handling marketing or advertising, or providing technological support with installations. At Wildix, we provide operational support when requested with sales and processes — and we have proven success through the use of our Wildix Partner Community.

Wildix never makes us feel alone. Since we chose to become a partner, we feel we have a team at our complete disposal that listens to us, supports us and makes us feel part of a large ecosystem. Our choice made in 2009 proved and still proves successful.

What Is a Business Partner: A Breakdown for Growth-Focused MSP, Davide Bianchi G&B Connect

Davide Bianchi,
CEO G&B Connect

Again, when looking for a business partner it pays to have a trusted partner, one with proven results. Operations are unique within each company, and they heavily depend on how the company operates — unsurprisingly. In many cases, it’s not easy for the main planners to understand how all parts of the company actually work, and it’s often difficult for external agencies to understand this as well. A company might have an extremely well-paid maintenance person, for example, who regularly checks machines every day. Firing that person and going to on-demand maintenance might seem sensible initially, but if you have old machines, that person may be saving you tens of thousands in lost production — and on-demand services may result in hours or even days of downtime.

The trick is to understand how well your operational consultant understands your business. And to do that, you must also understand your business, how it works and why it works.

Innovation and growth

Business partners focusing on innovation and growth can fall into the first two categories, but they may also talk about how technologies can improve your business. As an MSP, this category may suit you well — after all, if you offer a Wildix solution, you can replace an old PBX with something that helps staff work from almost anywhere in the world and has easy integrations that make the job much simpler.

There are also consultants who focus primarily on growth, but like in the previous categories, they need to understand your business well enough that they can understand how to cut costs or how to improve revenues through innovation. AI is one such technology, and as our CTO has said on several occasions, a great developer with AI becomes an even better developer. However, a poor developer with AI becomes even worse.

Pros and Cons of Partnerships

We have already touched on quite a few of the pros and cons of partnerships, but let’s address some of the key ones.

Partnership pros

Typically, a business partnership exists because you have some sort of gap in knowledge, expertise, resources or staffing. Consequently, you can utilize the skillsets that this business partnership brings to grow or even sell your business. Key advantages include:

  • Additional insights into key processes or strategies
  • Specific knowledge of certain technologies
  • Relationship management of suppliers or vendors
  • Knowledge base available at a lower cost than hiring internally

Partnership cons

Of course, there are some disadvantages of a business partnership. In many cases, these are because the expectations of the partnership have not been met by one side or the other.

  • You must make an assessment of the value of the partnership accurately
  • Picking the right partners can be time-consuming
  • Incorrect advice can lead to major issues without much recourse
  • Major strategic partnerships can stifle innovation in critical areas

Again, it’s up to you to weigh up the pros and cons of partnerships to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.

Nurturing and Sustaining Business Partnerships

One of the most important aspects of business partnerships is how to nurture and sustain them. When you are looking for a business partner, you need to think about how you wish to work with them and whether there is likely to be conflict or even conflicting ideas.

The key is communication, as always. Business partners must be open with each other to understand conflicts of interest, how they see their roles and how they see the companies involved. For those looking to deeply understand what is a business partner, it can be summed up in three words:

  • Trusted
  • Business
  • Advisor

And you nurture and sustain the trusted business advisor by treating them as a trusted business advisor. That’s not to say that you can’t question them to understand their logic — this helps you to understand their role more deeply and grow as a business person yourself. But ultimately, you must find someone that you trust, ensure that they deliver results and be realistic about what they can achieve.

I really feel like, from top to bottom, we’re known by Wildix. We’re appreciated by Wildix, and they want to see us grow as much as we do. It’s really what a partnership should be like, and I’ve never experienced that with another manufacturer.

What Is a Business Partner: A Breakdown for Growth-Focused MSP, Crag Davies Pulse Technologies

Craig Davies,
CEO of Pulse Technologies

From a partnership point of view — and Wildix focuses heavily on true business partnerships — the more open an MSP is with their issues and ideas, the more we can assist with helping the MSP achieve growth. We obviously have a bias towards our own solutions, but there’s a reason for that — our solutions are extremely flexible and highly reliable. Yet we aim to deliver the best solution for your needs.

MSPs looking for a business partner typically find that a good vendor is a great starting point — and that’s how the vendor-MSP-end user relationship should work: each level acting as a trusted advisor to the next.

However, when the vendor deals directly with the end user, you no longer have a business partner that’s working for you, the MSP. Instead, you have direct sales, and the focus is always going to be on generating more direct sales. This generates a huge conflict of interest for the vendor.

If you’re wondering how to partner with a company, that’s not the way. The direct vendor sales model hurts MSPs — and every business in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for UCaaS apart from Wildix offers direct sales.

That’s why you must find a business partner that is right for you and your business model.

If you want to know more about business partnering, take a look at our blog post on what is business partnering, which offers a different view on the topic.

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