The old saying that “two heads are better than one” can explain why entrepreneurs and business owners constantly strive to create partnerships. Partnerships are vital to the success of an enterprise and can take a stagnant business to the next level. However, partners must be selected with care and attention to detail. One bad relationship can suck the life out of a business. The telltale sign of a strong tandem is one that includes two entities increasing each other’s successes.
With this in mind, here are a few things to consider when searching for a business partnership:
- Form a relationship first, a partnership second. Don’t underestimate the value of actually liking each other. Be sure your partner complements your strengths and can atone for your weaknesses. For some reason, many ignore this. It’s as if they don’t realize business partners will actually spend time together. Without a relationship, the partnership will lack flow and may ultimately fail.
- Create a vision. There’s no better place to start than on the same page. Few things can derail a partnership quicker than two people heading in different directions. Sit down and talk about where you see this going in the short term and long term. Set goals for the partnership to reach together. Focus on these goals first, then set objectives for yourselves to attain through the help of the partnership. Revisit these down the road, revising and updating them as the partnership moves forward. Be sure both sides are working toward the same ultimate goal.
- Do not avoid the hard talks. An important aspect of staying on the same page is having difficult discussions. Communication is key to a good business partnership. It’s tempting to avoid controversial subjects in the early stages, but dodging these can lead to downfall. Talk about commitment. Ideally, you’d like to be able to focus solely on this partnership. However, that’s likely not the case. Be sure both sides understand the commitment from the start. Talk about profit-sharing and who foots the bills for which expenses, leaving nothing uncovered.
- Realize it’s not going to be perfect. Expect and prepare for disappointments and disagreements. Do not let these fester over time; take care of them immediately. When frustration occurs, confront your partner quickly and address the issue before it becomes bigger than it needs to be.
One great example of a partnership was recently announced in the last few weeks. Hewlett-Packard, the American global information technology company, publicized its partnership with premium watchmaker Titan and Movado for upcoming wearable technology to compete with the Apple Watch and others on the market. Each entity in this partnership has the potential to benefit greatly from this agreement. Could HP make its own smartwatch without the help of Titan and Movado? Probably—but this partnership gives the prestige of the Titan or Movado name on its product. Titan and Movado may be able to reach a market that they previously could not tap into: the tech-savvy, potentially younger generations.
A second example in the recent news came from the Minnesota Vikings. Surprising many with the potential to win the NFC North and knock off longtime favorite Green Bay Packers, the Vikings just announced a partnership with the Korean automaker Hyundai. As part of this arrangement, Hyundai will have vehicles on display during Minnesota’s home games and will give away merchandise to fans in attendance. This partnership also comes just in time for the Vikings to open their brand new stadium in 2016. Hyundai and the Vikings have announced the “Hyundai Club,” an exclusive area of the stadium offering great views of the game (some being 41 feet from the sideline) as well as the Minnesota skyline. Once again, both parties are in position to benefit greatly from the partnership. Trea Reedy, senior group manager of Hyundai, says, “Hyundai is not only connecting with football fans at a national level, but in their community where fans really show their passion. Minnesota has a dedicated and loyal fan base, and by partnering with the Vikings we are able to strengthen our footprint in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market and drive traffic to our dealers.”
A strong partnership can bring new life to a stagnant business. Take a look at your weaknesses, or at the market that you have yet to reach, and begin your research—perhaps there is a business out there that can broaden your reach.