Partnering with the right person or company provides more innovation, resources, skill sets and perspectives to scale your business and maximize wins.
Good partnerships can help your business succeed. In fact, one of the best ways to scale your business and maximize wins is to form partnerships with the right people or companies. Partnering can provide access to additional ideas, resources, skill sets and perspectives, which can elevate your individual capabilities.
When two businesses or individuals contemplate (and/or commit to) a partnership, there’s a lot to consider. These six qualities are essential to a strong relationship:
Trust is the foundation of any good partnership. If both sides of the relationship don’t agree on the fundamentals for success, the relationship is simply doomed from the beginning.
I’ve found that one of the best places to start is to simply ask the question: “What are some lessons that you learned from a previous partnership that you’d want to improve for this one?” This question will create dialog around areas of emphasis for the beginning months.
Once you have established focus areas, the next item on the agenda should be learning about the various team members who will be a part of the collaboration. Everyone likes to work – and receive information – in different ways. Laying out your plans for communication at the beginning will allow everyone to start on the same page. If you are planning for a long-term engagement, it might be a good idea to lay out your team’s personality profiles to show how you handle communication, conflict, deadlines, and attention to detail (we all know some people are more “visionary” than others). Ideally, you’ll have some personalities who are big picture thinkers, and others who enjoy “doing the doing”. The best partners bring different skills and strengths to the relationship.
During our discovery sessions, we like to establish a timeline for the non-deliverable deadlines. Discuss the following with your partner:
When are regularly scheduled meetings? Having this in the calendar as a recurring event from the start ensures that you always have a time scheduled with key stakeholders.
When are internal reviews? Depending on the type of partnership, I like to have a 15-minute internal review scheduled every month or two. This allows us to “zoom out” from the details of a project and ensure that communication is going well, the work we are delivering is high quality, and our team is timely in our responses to deadlines and deliverables..
What is the cadence for email updates? This is all about setting the appropriate expectations. When you schedule your weekly emails to go out every Friday by the end of the day, everyone is aware that any remaining questions will be addressed in that update. This reduces the amount of one-off messages in Slack and email throughout the course of the week, and allows your team to better structure their time, not having to be reactive to everything that comes in.
Find a partner that’s as passionate about the business as you are. The ideal partner will have the same enthusiasm, a shared vision and values, as well as similar long-term goals. It’s also important to discuss how you’ll measure success. Perhaps you’re trying to gain more revenue. But to achieve that goal, you’ll likely need to hit other metrics along the way, such as increasing social media followers, driving traffic to your website, boosting engagement at your events, driving sales, etc. Once you establish success measures, you can both work passionately and collaboratively to achieve these small and large milestones.
In successful partnerships, no one person does it all, and no one person takes all the credit. Be humble and grateful, appreciating what your partner contributes. The best partnerships are collaborative, not competitive. Ensure that each partner is contributing to the effort, the innovation process, and the business growth. Each person should understand their role in the partnership dynamic, feel fully supported, and be working towards shared goals.
It’s essential to be aligned in your vision for the company’s bigger picture goals, as well as the vision for each project. Partnerships can fall apart when the partners are at cross-purposes, so before entering into any partnership – and at regular intervals throughout the relationship – have honest, open conversations about your vision, your goals, and your next steps to get to where you both want to go.
While you don’t want to partner with someone who is exactly like you – with the same strengths and skills – you do want to have compatibility and respect for their work, capabilities, and ideas. Passion, trustworthiness, vision, humility, personality, and process are all instrumental to building a solid, successful partnership.
This article was written in collaboration with Eric Holtzclaw of Liger Partners. He talks about this topic more in-depth on his blog.