How to have a successful business partnership

Feb 3, 2017 by
How to have a successful business partnership

For some aspiring entrepreneurs, entering into a partnership can be one of the best ways to supercharge your business. Leveraging the skills and abilities of several people can produce a synergistic effect.

A productive partnership can be massively beneficial for a business, but a bad partnership can be highly detrimental. Here are some essential tips to ensure your business partnership is successful.

1 – Choose someone with complementary skills

If you’re partnering up, it’s always best to connect with someone who has skills that compliment your own. If you’re a shy tech expert, a gregarious master in salesmanship might be a great compliment (Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, founders of Apple, fit this dynamic). If all the partners in your business have similar skills, it will cost you extra (especially in the initial stages) to bring in additional workers to specialise in other areas.

2 – Make sure your personalities work together

From a logical perspective, choosing partners with complementary skills makes sense. However, it’s equally important that the personalities gel too. Getting a business off the ground is no easy feat, and if the personalities involved tend to clash, you’re likely to sabotage the business before it’s even begun. Excellent individuals can’t make up for a lack of teamwork in the business world. A mutual, positive outlook is everything!

3 – Have a partnership agreement

It can seem superfluous to draft up a partnership agreement, but it’s definitely worth it in the long-run. If you don’t have clearly defined roles for each partner, this is a recipe for disaster. Additionally, each partner should have a set of key performance indicators (KPI) that can be measured to ensure everyone is holding up their part of the deal. Even if your business partners are close friends, there are huge external stresses which come with starting a business that can affect friendships, so always have a partnership agreement to fall back on if things get tough.

4 – Ensure you communicate regularly

This is particularly crucial if you’re running a location independent digital business. If you don’t communicate regularly, it’s pretty much impossible to remain on the same page. Setting a designated time every week to touch base is essential if you want your partnership to remain intact.

In addition to regular communication, you should also seek to communicate with honesty. If a problem occurs with one of your partners and you don’t speak to them about it, resentment can build up which will damage your business in the long-run. As entrepreneurs, it’s important to be able to give and take critical feedback without getting emotional.

Business coach Peter Simoons states:

Communication tends to get better or easier when we start to know our (business) partner better. We can only learn to know our partners better when we invest in the relationship. Make time for your business partners and get to know them.

5 – It’s okay to quit a partnership

If things aren’t working out, there’s no shame in admitting it and walking away. Perhaps your partner isn’t achieving his or her KPIs or there is a clash of personalities that you didn’t anticipate earlier on. Trying to persevere with a bad partnership can cost you months or years of your life, where you could be far more productive starting a new venture.

If things do go wrong, don’t blame yourself too much. Simply determine what went wrong, think about how you could have handled things better and ensure you learn whatever valuable lessons you can for the future. Just because your first attempt at a partnership didn’t work doesn’t mean that you should become a solopreneur. You probably just picked a partner who wasn’t a great match for you!