No one can do everything. This may seem like a banal truism, but in the business world, too many companies try to manage everything for themselves. To operate at peak efficiency, sometimes you need a partner to help. This means building trust with another company, something many owners and executives find difficult. To create strong partnerships, you should keep the following in mind.
1. Get It in Writing
The idea of building a relationship on a handshake is nice but naive. Today, you need to lay out the foundations of a partnership in writing, with agreements that spell out duties, liabilities, and parameters for your partnership, including any legal relationship you wish to establish.
2. Set Clear Expectations
Over time, it can be easy for one partner to take on more duties, or to let some things slip. To avoid disputes and anger, you should establish the expectations of each partner at the beginning, and commit those to writing.
3. Communicate Well
Your business and your partners change over time. Your initial written documents matter, but communicating over time is just as important, if not more so. Don't assume no news is good news; reach out and meet regularly to make sure you stay on the same page.
4. Think About Your Clients
You don't take on a partner just to make friends. You do so to improve your business and your client service. Look carefully at how well you are doing, and make sure your clients are pleased with what both you and your partner provide from a quality and customer service perspective.
5. Run the Numbers
While you look at the improvements for your clients, keep an eye on your bottom line as well. The best partnerships allow you to enhance your revenue and let you come out ahead even if you have related costs added to the books. Make sure the numbers align with your expectations and goals.
6. Balance Your Equation
When you form a partnership, each party's success matters. You should not think about trying to come out ahead of your partners. You have mutual goals and compatible businesses. Look actively for ways that you can work efficiently together, build on early returns, and succeed both individually and together.
7. Know When to Separate
Partnerships seldom last forever. One business may change, or goals diverge over time. Plan at the beginning for circumstances that might lead you to part ways. While you should not act out of paranoia, you should approach realistically. If the relationship or the business starts to flag, be ready to move forward.
Business partnerships work to help you, your partner, and your clients perform better and do more. Approach with a sense for what you need and want, and communicate frequently to ensure you are getting the most from these relationships.