You’re sitting there in your home or small business office and wondering– how do you compete with the big guys? You know—the ones that are your most successful competitors. How do you dramatically increase your sales when it’s just little old you? Technology helps the small business owner play bigger. But if you want to play really big without hiring a salaried sales team, then your secret weapon is joint ventures.

When two or more small business owners work together to increase sales for both, a joint venture is born. More importantly, joint venturing with the right partners can give you access to hundreds of clients at a time instead of one at a time. There are other businesses that already have access to the type of clients you want, but they may not offer exactly what you offer. However, if you’re willing to do the work and pay them a healthy percentage of sales, many would be more than willing to endorse or promote your products to their subscribers, clients, inactive clients or followers. It’s a win-win situation.

The possibilities for creative joint ventures are endless. Any successful business that sells products or services to your target client is a possible joint venture partner. You can work with different “partners” on different projects at the same time. Here are some ways you can structure joint ventures.

Offer bundled products and services — this is where you put together a single offering that includes product components from you and your partner that work together to make a better, more complete package for the end user.

Endorse a partner’s product or service your clients need for a percentage of sales — you can endorse to your client list or someone with a great client list can agree to endorse and recommend your product. This opens up a new distribution chain for you and allows you to sell to a whole new market. And it allows you to access a market that someone else has spent time, money and energy acquiring! Do this online through affiliate programs. Offer your own or list your downloadable product with Clickbank(.com).

Offer a partner’s complimentary service — this is similar to bundled services, but the complimentary service is sold as an “add on” or “up sell” to your service and is optional for the client. This strategy can be accomplished by joining your partner’s affiliate program, or by creating a simple way to track the sales you generate so you can get paid.

Develop new products or services together-even with competitors — this is when you combine your expertise with a partner to create a product or service that’s more compelling and comprehensive than it would be if you did it alone. Several years ago I teamed up with a fellow business coach, Terri Zwierzynski who owns Solo-E.com to author an e-book and marketing program, 145 Ways to Market Your Small or Solo Business. We both sell the book and our affiliates sell it as well, meaning that our sales are much higher than if we had done it alone.

Co-marketing — you see big super stores do this all the time. A recent series of TV commercials for Target featured a number of brands that they carry in their store. That creates a win-win situation for both companies. Marketing is expensive, so sharing marketing for complimentary products or services is a great idea. Your marketing could offer a “complete solution” which involves the services of you and your “partner”.
Co-sponsoring a promotional or charity event –this is self explanatory. It can get you lots of publicity in your local community, especially if you team up with a bigger more prominent company.

Referral fees — you can simply agree to refer clients to each other for a referral fee. Don’t overlook your competitors. Many times an established competitor has an overload of prospects or they don’t work with smaller clients any longer. They may be very happy to send the surplus your way, particularly if you offer a fee. Don’t be shy about approaching them with this idea.

Barter — you can barter your services for someone else’s that you need. You can join a barter exchange where you offer services on barter and then can use your “barter money” to purchase services from anyone else in the exchange. I’ve done this for 10 years and it’s great. You can also barter a percentage of profits for a service you need.

Say you need advertising in an expensive publication. You may be able to barter for ad space by paying the publication a percentage of the sales it generates. Take away the risk by offering to pay them the price of the ad if not enough sales are generated. This is a great way to reach new prospects without any up front cash.

Make a list of other businesses that serve the same market you do. Find Joint Venture partners at social networking sites or through local networking groups. Then spend the time you currently spend going after ONE sale at a time to form solid relationships with partners who can generate MULTIPLE sales.