Finding trustworthy partners is key to any startup success, as Nicco Global founder and CEO Richelle Nicols has discovered.
Working out who you should do business with in the early days is fraught with emotion and the knowledge that if you stuff it up, you’re putting your startup at risk.
It’s a feeling Richelle Nicols knows all too well.
“People, relationships, trust is so important when you start a business, particularly because oftentimes you’ll take anything for a bucket of chicken, almost,” Richelle said at the recent Startup Daily From Idea to Unicorn event series. “You’re often very desperate, so you have to be careful with who you surround yourself with because you are somewhat vulnerable to an extent, particularly early on.”
Learn to trust your intuition
Richelle is a big believer in the ‘trust your gut‘ school of business. So much so, she wishes trusting your intuition was taught more. “It’s just so smart, it’s so intelligent. We have this guidance that’s saying, ‘yes, go down that alley’ or ‘yes, go and meet with this person, or ‘hmm, maybe check this or check that’. There’s nothing more intelligent than that – I wish that was developed way more because it complements everything else in [our] hard skill set as well.”
In short, Nicco is an enterprise platform that gives businesses advanced consumer engagement solutions, streamlined into one app. With the capabilities of combining payments, data and cloud solutions, the app allows for businesses to better understand buyer behaviour and create personalised customer experiences.
Despite having an initial positive reaction from a potential partner, Richelle believes trust needs to be built a little more slowly.
“It’s something you have to wait out and see how it looks in the seasons,” she told Startup Daily.
“It requires you to not commit too much or give too much and basically step your way into it.”
This was her approach when she first started working with cloud solution provider Ingram Micro. She was looking for a cloud partner that could bundle end-to-end solutions – with hardware, software and managed services working seamlessly together – to save her time, resources and help her market to large enterprises from the very beginning. She also wanted to be able to quickly scale up through a global cloud partner and she had a strong sense that Ingram Micro would be an excellent fit for Nicco Global.
Partner to suit your vision
“I was kind of working backwards from the end goal of where I wanted to get to. I knew that I had a solution that I was going to be wanting to sell to enterprises globally,” Richelle said. “Ingram Micro, with their cloud marketplaces and CloudBlue, they have the ability to expose you to lots of different customers in over 47 countries. They have go-to market strategies. So, to me that made perfect sense to partner with someone like Ingram Micro.”
The relationship has developed over time and through that time Richelle believes what’s best for her company has always been at the heart of the relationship. “Through that time, through the conversations and the meetings and going to their summit, you get this really strong sense that they are trying to figure out what’s best for you. Helping you meet people and connect the dots to help your business go where you want it to go.”
Importantly for Richelle, the huge global cloud services provider never made her feel like she was too small to bother with. Instead, they allowed her to focus on her product and business and helped her work out how to innovate and grow it.
Getting access to the resources a large cloud partner brought to the table was immensely attractive – their technology, marketing, sales and distribution teams.
“That’s going to fulfil my vision of [Nicco Global] being a scaleup from day one to enterprises,” Richelle added. “Because if I’m a startup and I’m selling to large enterprises, that’s not going to work. That’s not going to work unless at the table you have [a global provider like] Ingram Micro saying ‘we’re plugging into this product, we support this product’. That was always the idea, versus beg, borrow or steal for a seat at the table… it’s a huge validator.”
Developing trust in your business partnerships
Trust between partners takes time to develop, but here are a few takeaways from Richelle’s experience that might help you fast-track the process.
Go with your gut
“I know it sounds a bit woo-woo, but you either feel good talking to someone, or you feel something else,” Richelle said. “I’ve had to learn to listen to that. It doesn’t mean they’re not trustworthy, but it does mean you need to investigate more, ask questions.”
Be trustworthy yourself
It goes without saying that if you want to find trustworthy partners, you need to be a trustworthy player yourself. That means, doing what you said you’d do when you said you’d do it and behaving in line with your company values.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
Business relationships are human relationships, and trust comes from putting yourself out there. Always admit when you’ve made a mistake or think you need to change direction. In addition, don’t be afraid to share the ambitions you have for your startup right from the beginning.
Share your relationships
Introduce your partner to people who are a great fit for their vision. Richelle has been impressed with the way Ingram Micro will introduce her to a potential new customer and actually sit in on the introductory call between the two businesses. Advocacy builds conviction.
Take your time
“Sometimes when you are a startup, you’ll take anything and I think often the most important thing that I have learnt is take your time,” Richelle shared.
That means, work out your business plan and vision first and work back from there. Find a partner that can grow with you every step of the way.
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily in partnership with Ingram Micro.
Daily startup news and insights, delivered to your inbox.