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Key Partners Business Model Canvas Building Block

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Leveraging ecosystem partners allows you to focus on your strengths in a connected world. Consider strategic alliances, coopetition, joint ventures, and buyer-supplier relationships.

Business Model Canvas’s Key Partners

Understanding your Value Chains, Key Resources, and Key Partners should help you identify cost drivers and innovation opportunities. Cost management is important for all Business Models, but “no-frills” airlines are built around low-cost structures. Costs in your business model? Should they be optimized or differentiated?

Major Partners

Four key partnerships have pros and cons.
No matter the type of partnership, these agreements create key partners for both businesses and must be managed, cultivated, and regularly reviewed for their role in each company’s business model.

strategic alliances

Strategic alliances involve two companies working on a beneficial project. Both companies remain independent while collaborating.
Strategic alliances help companies share liability in a competitive environment.
Strategic partnerships include franchising, licensing, and affiliate marketing.

Coopetition Partnerships

Rivals can partner to benefit both parties.
The competition involves rival companies collaborating. Pfizer and BioNTech collaborated on a COVID-19 vaccine.

Joint ventures

Joint ventures are partnerships between independent companies. Shared resources.
The companies in a joint venture work on one project rather than two.
Many business professionals advise against joint ventures due to their potential for conflict.

Supplier-Buyer Relations

Buyer-supplier agreements involve buying and selling goods and services.
Our suppliers and buyers are vital partners. With them, our value proposition would succeed.
Maintaining a productive buyer-supplier relationship is crucial regardless of your company’s role.

Strategic Partnerships: Why Are They Necessary?

Strategic partnerships allow companies to build relationships and cut costs in a risk-averse, competitive environment. By spreading business environment risk across two companies, they reduce risk.
Strategic partnerships often form a powerful business model by making key resources affordable. Partner services complement our main value propositions.
The right partners help us finish our key tasks and our customers’ Jobs to Be Done.

How Do You Select Key Partners?

Key partners are crucial to the business model canvas and business models. As discussed elsewhere on the Digital Leadership website, your business should cultivate its key partnerships.

Key partner selection is arbitrary. Your value proposition, theirs, and both companies’ business models will greatly determine. However, we examined successful key partnerships and found some common traits to consider when choosing a key partner.

Partner Selection Considerations


Only form key partnerships for your value proposition. Partnerships are essential.


Is the partnership geographically feasible? Key suppliers and partnerships may have supply chain requirements.

Carmakers need specific resources at certain times. If the supply chain is overstretched, the company won’t be able to produce.

Additional needs

The deal must benefit both companies beyond risk reduction. Is the partnership making you stronger against competitors?

Business model suitable

Finally, does this new partner fit your business model? Do they make sense in your business model canvas?
New key partners should be accepted fully. They’re necessary for your business model and success.

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Business Model Framework UNITE

How to Create Innovation has several canvases on value creation and finding the right business model for your customer segment and needs. The framework encourages drastic changes that give you an edge. We encourage you to explore our website and book to grow your company through business model innovation.

Business Models

The Business Model Canvas covers the six main business model components: Operating, Value, Service, Experience, Cost, and Revenue Streams.

The Extended Business Model Canvas adds Business Drivers, customers, the team, and the Unfair Advantage to the immediate business context.

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Detail Models

Business Models have many parts. An appropriate tool or canvas can zoom in on your area of interest, depending on your challenges:

Your Massive Transformative Purpose and Business Intention define your drivers and guide your actions.
The Value Proposition Canvas describes your product or service.
Data-driven Personas help you understand Customer Segments.
The Customer Job Statement and Job Map define customer JTBD.
The Business Model Environment places your Business Model in a market with emerging trends and disruptive forces.
The Innovation Culture Canvas helps you define and shape an innovative culture.
Create an innovation team structure with the Innovation team structure.
Learning and growth metrics can track early development. These metrics help you focus on what matters instead of creating a detailed business plan that won’t help. A full business case can expand the Revenue and Cost Models’ financial aspect.
The Operating Model Canvas helps you visualize it.

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