Unlikely Partnerships: Unique Ideas for Creating More Success in Your Business

There's a new twist to business partnerships redefining what it means to be a successful entrepreneur. It starts with out-of-the-box thinking and ends with a bottom line that's fulfilling in ways far more valuable than dollars and cents.

Here we consider some examples where unconventional joint ventures can create win-win scenarios for everyone involved.

From Food Desert to Bountiful Harvest

Areas where healthy, affordable food options are hard to come by, also known as food deserts, are common in areas where mainstream grocers have turned their backs.

But this hasn't stopped Farm Express, the Arizona-based non-profit, from trying to close the gap. The firm uses retired and converted city buses as mobile markets, delivering fresh produce where it's needed most. And that's just on the surface.

The unlikely partnerships contributing to the program's success are easily overlooked in this feel-good story. Who would think that city buses could find new life as Farm Express couriers?

Moreover, consider the conversion process, the work involved, and the skills required to turn a run-down, retired vehicle into a well-running beacon of hope, like the one shown here. At a minimum, it has the potential to touch businesses in the following sectors:

  • Vehicle repair and restoration
  • Mobile branding and marketing
  • Shelving and storage supply
  • Vehicle Insurance

If you're in any of these businesses, the takeaway is that joint venture opportunities can present themselves—and yield benefits—in ways you may not consider.

From Awkward Silence to Open-Road Duets

Anyone who's used a rideshare app understands the uncomfortable silence of traveling with a total stranger.

Earbuds offer a partial solution but also eliminate any chance of conversation, making this unexpectedly successful alliance between two tech giants a lesson in unlikely partnerships for small businesses.

In 2014, Spotify and Uber joined forces to fill the dreaded audio gap between driver and rider. The idea was simple: reward premium Spotify members with the ability to choose a playlist for the ride. When their Uber showed up, so did their favorite songs, eliminating the silence and adding a pleasant dimension to the adventure.

It's no secret that Spotify and Uber are giants in their industries. But you don't have to be a large entity to think big when it comes to unique joint ventures. Here are some ways to get your wheels turning in unconventional ways:

Start Googling 

Yes, you could google terms like 'business partnerships' and find blogs like this one in Bplans that outlines how to cultivate and build conventional ones. And if doing so yields a joint venture along more traditional lines that helps, it's still a win for your business.

But if you're looking for something different, you might start by searching "non-profits that need help" or keeping up with community news stories that focus on need and outreach. As we outlined earlier, food pantries, even mobile ones like Farm Express, are often open to partnerships that will benefit both parties.

The key is to find a connection between your business and the cause worthy of forming a partnership. And if it's not apparent, it means you're on the right track.

Here, we look at several examples you may not have considered based on this top 20 business idea piece in Business & Leadership.




Unconventional Partnership/Angle

Yoga Center


Provide yoga mats for homeless shelters along with insights into stress management through yoga practices.

Catering Business


Collect discarded cardboard from businesses on your routes and donate the recycling proceeds to non-profits.

Travel Agency


Provide insights into bookings to local hospitals who can recommend places to stay for long-term visitors.



Donate time or equipment to help local school athletic programs better monitor performance.

Car Wash & Detail


Work with local leaders to provide public service information and updates to patrons as they pass through.


By now, you get the idea that the partnership may not initially be obvious. But if you still have doubts about finding something unique, you can always try your own outreach.

Local business improvement districts, government agencies, churches, and other institutions are often willing to connect unlikely partners for the sake of doing good. All it takes is a willingness to think differently and keep an open mind.

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