Like most things in the world of business, every decision is important. From product design to service facilitation, each action plays an integral role in the success of the company and ultimately, the consumer. One key element to a business that cannot be taken lightly is partnership.
A good marriage doesn’t just rely on chemical attraction, as any experienced person may tell you. It’s the same with business. Think of a business partnership just like a marriage, but without the honeymoon and romance. You rely on each other. You support (or don’t support) each other. You succeed, or fail, together.
Sounds important, right? So how do you make sure your partnership is healthy and effective? There’s no way to guarantee a perfect match up. People change. Business practices change. Economy, interest, etc., they all influence a partnership. Regardless, there are some things to consider when establishing a partnership. Here is a top five list (in no particular order) of what we have found to be most important to consider before and during a partnership.
Roles. Everyone has a place. While we don’t like labels, this is the one area where a label is a must. Each partner must have a role with clear definitions, boundaries, powers, and job description(s). This way, there is no room for question when problems arise or challenges come your way. Everyone knows what to do and who should do it.
Definition. Everything must be defined. Like a good board game, you need a manual with clear definitions. Communicate the definitions and agree on them. Put it on paper if you feel it’s necessary. When we talk about definition, we mean right down to the very words used to explain a task or position. Nothing is too simple to analyse. What is work? What does strategy mean to you, compared to your partner's definition? There is no harm in over-communicating.
Equality. While it sounds pleasant and agreeable that partners should have equal footing, this isn’t always the best idea. Your business is a boat, and there should only be one set of hands pulling the steering wheel. Who has the most invested into your business? Who does more of the work? If you can’t agree on who should have the higher percentage of ownership in the business, maybe you should reconsider doing business as a partnership. This isn’t to say that one of the partners with less ownership is less valuable, it’s just a buffer to the inevitable disagreements that will surely cross your path. Perfectly equal partnerships can and do work. But will yours?
Communication. Of course. You really can’t emphasize this enough. Like we mentioned before, define it first. Is it okay to text or is email preferred? What platform, and how often? You will want to use etiquette in your communications as well, but what does that mean to you (another example of definition)? What about meetings? Whose job is it to communicate with production and whose job is it to communicate within sales? The list is endless. Make sure you and your partner(s) understand the communication process.
Personality. Know your partner. Let them know you. One of the best ways to do this is to take a personality test. There’s nothing like knowing the way your partner ticks in order to understand why they do what they do. You may even find out some things about yourself that you didn’t know. Knowing the personality of everyone involved will ease communication, reveal potential and limitations, define standards, and give clarity to roles. Many of these personality tests are free, easy, and fun. Here’s a quick list of free and paid tests* that we have found useful:
*We are not endorsing the above personality tests and have no affiliation with any of these. These tests are easily found in a search inquiry and only linked here as a courtesy. We hope you find them helpful.
A partnership is a process of fine tuning, reasoning, and commitment. With the right tools and mindset, you can make your partnership a great success. We hope you do!