Like peanut butter and jelly, the future success of your small business may be in developing meaningful partnerships. And, with the right type of planning, “teaming up” can prove to be a match made in heaven. Without advanced and thoughtful planning, partnerships can be hell.
As with any good relationship, victory begins with the quest for self-discovery and awareness. It’s essential to ask:
- What is your intended purpose for developing a partnership?
- What do you expect to gain from the association?
- What assets do you bring to the partnership?
- How does a partnership fit into your business plan?
Once you’ve determined that a partnership would, indeed, fit into your overall strategy, the next step is to identify the companies that would be a potential match. Conducting extensive research to find the perfect “mate” will be crucial to your success. Inquiries to make include:
- What companies reach the market that we currently serve?
- What businesses make products or provide services that relate to our business?
- What ventures have a vision and values that are similar to ours?
- What companies have expressed an interest in collaborating with us?
- What enterprises have similar standards, work ethic, and commitment to excellence that we have?
Once you completed your homework, you’re ready to begin building a partnership that creates a win-win for all parties involved (owners and employees, alike). The path to successful partnerships does not have to be littered with misunderstandings and disagreements. Honest and open communications, up front, can clear away any potential barriers to performance.
Areas to discuss include:
- Purpose and vision – why are we doing what we’re doing?
- Performance targets – what objectives and goals reflect what both parties expect to gain from the partnerships? Are they realistic based on the amount of resources both parties are willing to put forth? What needs to be achieved by when?
- Working agreements — what responsibilities is each person willing to take on? What are the norms of acceptable behavior? How can you best work together to achieve your goals?
- Problem solving — how will you utilize the talent of both partners to solve problems?
- Decision-making – what process will be used to make decisions? In the event of an inability to arrive at a mutually beneficial decision, who will be the final influence?
- Managing differences – What is our plan for resolving conflict?
For a complete list of discussion points to create a successful, stress-less partnership, download Keys to Successful Partnership: A Planning Checklist. (The original author is unknown but we think s/he is brilliant for creating this list.)
Your business coach can assist with facilitating your partnership discussion. And, remember to engage a mutually agreed upon attorney to help you draw up your final partnership agreement.