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The most common mistake in partnerships is based on vague agreements. When either side of the table aren’t honest and clear on their goals, the partnership can lose its purpose. The ability of an entrepreneur to create viable strategic partnerships can become a critical asset in their ability to compete in today’s ever-changing environment. So, the conversation to develop a successful strategic partnership can be one of the most powerful conversations a business ever has. Here are my top 3 tips on how to navigate that conversation to create winning partnerships:
1. Be Clear
You have to make sure both sides of the table are on the same page to ensure your chances of a good or even great outcome. From the first meeting, be clear on what you want to get out of the partnership and have a true understanding of your partner’s goals. This will affirm whether your visions are aligned and if the partnership makes sense. So seek partners who are experts in areas where you are lacking. You should not be taking on more because of a partnership, but freeing up time to focus on what you are great at. You want to be able to focus on the activities that are critical to your business functions, but more importantly your strengths.
So, ask yourself a few questions before sitting down with your potential partner: What are your objectives? What are your ideal outcomes of the partnership for your business? And theirs?
2. Take the 30,000 foot view
You want to make sure the partnership is opening up the door to a client base that your business wouldn’t normally have access to or would have a difficult time connecting with. Are you looking beyond the table? Even though there may be a quick win on both ends of the table, have you thought about the longevity of the partnership and what it looks like? Do they have a strong brand and a good reputation? Do you share core values? Is there potential to support each other after the first win? Can marketing or sales metrics be established to enable you to see the value and progress of the partnership?
3. Communicate (Read: Over Communicate)
FIRST –Get the agreement in writing. It will help you avoid any type of messy breakup or confusion in the future. How many times have you heard about partnerships that blow up with costly results? Don’t be that person. Get the goals and expectations in writing as soon as possible so that both sides of the table have their interests protected.
It’s easy for a partner to feel anxious or exposed after voicing their weaknesses.
So whenever you feel anxious, you’ll be able to take a deep breath and understand that your needs and worries will be addressed because you have been clear about your goals and needs about this partnership early on. Any lack of follow-thru can create strain in the future. So, addressing the next steps throughout each process is extremely important so that both parties are always on board and equally committed.
Frequent check-ins are necessary to talk through any problems. Keeping the confidence levels high on both sides is extremely important and makes it easier to deal with the unexpected quickly.
Remember, partnerships do not enjoy the success they picture unless they put in the commitment, energy, and structure needed. Finding a partner is easy, but establishing the goals, expectations and having great communication are the keys to any successful partnership.
If you invest the time early on and establish accountability, you will definitely set yourself up to create a mutually beneficial partnership.
Give your brand the good life.