Entering business partnerships is like any long-term relationship, and the biggest factor determining the success of that relationship is having a set of common values.
After experiencing the breakdown of a business partnership I became acutely aware of what went wrong and what I could have done differently if I had my time over.
In the very beginning, I had a vision of what I wanted my business to look like. But instead of finding a partner I could fit into that vision, I wrapped my vision around the person. I was so caught up in the excitement of starting a new venture that I didn’t pay close enough attention to the most important decision: choosing my business partner.
When entering into business partnerships, how do we know whether a person suits our future vision?
Well, there are these tiny things called “values” that we need to consider.
These tiny things actually have huge significance and end up dictating everything you do in the business. They determine the order and way in which you do things, the conduct in which you carry yourself and the guidelines in which you operate. And to ensure you and your business partner are on the same page, you need to make sure your values are in alignment.
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Identify your values
This is a great exercise to do with your business partner or even your partner. Ask yourselves, how do I fill my space and my time? And what do I feel I missed out on that I am always striving for?
For example, you may find that you fill your space with books and therefore really value education. Or you may go to the gym five times a week, meaning you value your health and vitality. The list may be long, but that’s okay.
Prioritise your values
Then you need to work out the order of priority for these values. This is not always immediately obvious. For example, you may think you value your career and providing for your family first, but in order to do that successfully you will need to put your health and vitality first.
Define your values
Next, you must clearly define and provide examples of what your values actually mean. The value of ‘honesty’, for example, may mean something different to one party than it does to another. To some people, honesty might mean telling nothing but the truth; to others, honesty could mean telling the truth most of the time. Honesty might rank above all else in importance for one party, whilst the other party will be happy to tell a white lie if it means closing the sale.
Do you see where this is going?
These values and their clarity are actually what govern your business, whether you are aware of them or not. So it’s best to define them from the start with your business partner in order to prevent a clash later.
What’s your secret to successful business partnerships?