In business, partnerships are an essential element. Unfortunately, they’re not always a success right off the bat. Studies show that more than half of all partnerships fail, and often sooner than later. To avoid that risk, businesses need to make sure that they’re building strong partnerships in the first place. While that means something a little different for everyone, there are some basic guidelines and best practices everyone can benefit from.
Here are 10 key elements of any successful business partnership.
No matter what you do, you will never find success in business partnerships without trust and transparency. A mutual foundation of trust and respect should come standard with any partner that you take on. This will help you move forward with the other aspects of the relationship and give you peace of mind that you’ve made a good connection. Transparency ensures that everyone is clear about objectives, expectations, goals, and other elements of the partnership, as well.
Early on in your partnership, you should create or identify your shared mission and goals. It’s important that partners are on the same page about the efforts and intentions of their business operation, and that everyone is aware of the goals at hand. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Bound) goals are important, as is the need for communication of those goals if you are going to achieve them and make the most of your partnerships.
You choose partners for a reason. They either have a certain type of experience or knowledge that you lack, or they have a product or service that complements your own. In any case, both you and your business partners have the experience and knowledge to bring to the table. It needs to be leveraged effectively to help you both reach your goals and build a stronger partnership. This also allows you to assign ownership to intellectual property and ideas.
This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s one aspect of partnerships that often gets overlooked far more than it should. All the things that you can do to create strong relationships won’t matter if you can’t work together to get things done. You should be able to connect with partners who have similar working styles and business goals and utilize those connections to work together toward the accomplishment of those goals. Even the best partnerships in the world won’t work without a commitment to teamwork and everyone pulling their weight.
Speaking of pulling your weight, another tenet of successful partnerships is to work smarter, not harder. Take advantage of partnerships and collaborations to find more efficient, streamlined ways of doing things. Choose partners specifically because they can make your job easier (and vice versa). The available tools and resources today make it easy for businesses to get more done with less effort and partnering with other companies is one of them.
When you choose partners for your business, think about those who have strengths that you don’t. Look for partnerships that fill in the weaknesses or skill gaps that you have in your own team. Find connections with businesses and individuals that focus on highlighting how your strengths work together to provide better solutions. You both have your best assets to put forward—make sure that you’re doing just that. If they’re better at marketing or your team is better at lead prospecting, create strategies based on those details.
Just as you need to know what you and your partners can do, you also need to be aware of the limitations of your business connections. For example, a partnership with a company in a complementary industry might help you reach a new target audience, but it’s not going to make your company millions overnight. It’s helpful to identify limitations early so that you can go on to form partnerships later that cover those gaps and reduce the limits you face.
One of the best ways to ruin a relationship fast is to assume everyone knows their role and what’s expected of them. Every partnership needs to be set up with clearly defined roles and expectations for all involved. Accountability should be baked into your strategies and relationships, allowing your people to take ownership of their roles and their duties. This also helps you hold your partners accountable for their roles and responsibilities and ensures that everyone is working toward a common goal.
Just as your teams need to get along, so do your leaders. The leadership that represents your business and that of your partner should be a collaborative effort between both parties. It should focus on all the other key elements here and facilitate those to develop stronger, more effective partnerships in all aspects of your business. The leaders need to set the pace for a successful partnership so that everyone else can follow suit.
If two partners are going to be successful in any working relationship, they will need to provide each other with the appropriate communication and support. There is no such thing as too much communication. Fortunately, digital tools make it easy to keep communication lines open and keep everyone in the loop of what’s going on. You should have a schedule for regular discussions and conversations that can guide progress, in addition to an open line for ongoing communication and feedback.
You’ve got a lot of business relationships to handle, and that’s in addition to the customers that require your attention day in and day out. While you’re fostering relationships and building connections, who’s fielding the calls? The virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can serve as your 24/7 answering service, along with providing support for lead intake, appointment scheduling, and even your outreach campaigns to get the leads flowing in the first place.