When managed correctly, partnerships can be a great resource for your business. However, one must always remember that good partnerships are mutually beneficial, and getting the right balance can often be difficult without adequate planning.
1. DO plan the structure of the partnership
Before reaching out to a potential partner I always take time to ask myself these questions:
a) What do I want from them? This needs to be specific. Are you asking for money? Advice? Business referrals? What would make this a valuable partnership?
b) What can I offer in return? What would be a fair exchange for what I am asking for from them with respect to their objectives?
c) Are they likely to be a good fit for the objective I am trying to reach?
2. DO keep the terms balanced
I always try to be clear when proposing my plan to a potential partner that, while I will negotiate, this is about creating a meaningful partnership and I am not just asking for a favor. It is likely that anyone you approach will have their own objectives, so I am always sure to ask about these upfront and take them into account to reassess the balance of the gives and takes. The feeling of one party being ‘in debt’ to the other is an indication of a poorly structured partnership and is not good for building a long lasting business relationship.
3. DO reassess the value of the partnership
Finally, I am not afraid to cut a partner loose if their demands and objectives don’t match up with mine. This sometimes feels awkward to do if I approached them, as opposed to the other way around; but not everyone I approach is necessarily the right partner for me once everything is laid out on the table. Walking away early gives chance to find a better match without losing too much time or energy.
Rose Almond Design Services (www.almondesigns.ca), Toronto, Canada