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4 essential ingredients of a beneficial business partnership

Last week I wrote a piece for Flying Solo titled: That’s not a partnership – it’s you asking me to do stuff for you for free, which definitely seemed to resonate with the Flying Solo audience. I received  some terrific feedback and it seems to have struck a rich vein of pain, including this: “I just read your blog on Flying Solo and literally want to hug you. Today that’s just the encouragement I needed to say no. Thank you!!”

I have been thinking more about the post, and the circumstances that led me to post it, and I thought it might be worthwhile sharing my thoughts on what makes a truely great partnership.

Here are my 4 rules of thumb for creating a great business partnership:

  1. Nothing ad hoc – small business owners are time poor and it is critical that we invest our time for the greatest possible return. This means taking a strategic approach to partnerships. The sorts of questions I ask myself when it comes to partnering include: What is my goal? Who can help me achieve that goal? What can I offer them in return that they don’t currently have? How much time will I/ my partner invest in this? How much money will I/ my partner invest in this? What are my measures for success? What is the deadline/ timeframe for the partnership?
  2. A common audience/ niche/ market– we need to both be solving problems for the same target market. Some businesses would also say that a great partnership does not compete with you on products or services. I don’t have this as a hard and fast rule – I would not rule out partnering with a competitor if the partnership ticks my other boxes.
  3. A meeting of values – this does not necessary mean my prospective partner needs to go about business in exactly the same way as I do, more that we have the same approach to how we treat our customers and how we treat our partners. The brand you partner with will, in effect, become an extension of your brand, so do your due diligence. Respect, trust and honesty are critical, as are: not taking each other for granted and regular and open communication.
  4. The opportunity needs to offer a genuine Win:Win – this means there is something in it for my partner and something in it for me. The ‘something’ could be: 
      • money – please provide a product or service and we will pay you
      • exposure – please provide a product or service and we will give you access to an audience you could not otherwise have access to
      • good will – please provide a product or service because this is a cause you believe in contributing to
      • credibility – please provide a product or service and you will gain credibility by being associated with our brand

And as a bonus? If my prospective partner has complementary skills to mine and I can learn something, or many things, new about business, and I can share with them new ideas and skills to help their business – then that is an absolute bonus.

Tick all those boxes, and that’s what I call a partnership!

What are your rules when it comes to partnering?

Kate Christie is a time management expert and author, she is also the founder of Time Stylers

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