Tips for Successful Small Business Partnerships

Have you considered using the power of small business partnerships to help grow your brand? While it may seem like a risky decision, partnering with another local business may complement and benefit your company in ways that you never imagined.

Why partner up in the first place?

There are many perks of self-employment, but it also means having to do things on your own. It’s useful to assess your product or service to see if there is a relevant local business that you could team up with.

Consider the following scenario: you own a small furniture store, and you sell custom-built items to your customers. You hear about a local designer who creates interesting and intricate products. You reach out and form a partnership. The designer works exclusively with you on furniture and other household goods, and you go to them for all your design needs. You promote one another’s work, and expand each other’s client bases. This, in turn, increases your business’s success.

To help you establish a solid foundation and to avoid any pitfalls, here are a few things to keep in mind as you build your business partnerships.

1. Be open to communication

From daily duties to setting up an agreement at the outset of a partnership, to regular check-ins and update meetings between parties, communication is the lifeblood of every successful partnership. When each partner knows what is expected of them, what the other is doing, and how these activities are aligned to grow your businesses, everyone will be happy.

2. Share a common goal

Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort: that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Maintaining a successful partnership is no different. Make sure that you choose someone with whom you share a common vision or goal. When you’re building a new line of custom upholstered sofas, you don’t want your partner to be daydreaming about designing desks; neither your sofas nor their desks are going to turn out the way either of you envisioned.

3. Divide responsibilities and set expectations

Sometimes, one partner can feel like they are shouldering more than their fair share of the work. Defining the responsibilities of your partnership and then dividing them equally from the start of your relationship will help to prevent these types of issues. It’s also helpful to ensure that tasks are assigned according to each person’s strengths, new duties are distributed in a fair manner, and that each party plays a role in the decision-making process.

4. Know when to say “no”

We’re all different, and it’s these differences that make partnerships worthwhile. Each person brings their own unique strengths to fill in the gaps that others can’t. This does mean that there can be disagreements. According to LinkedIn, 50 percent of partnerships fail in the first two or three years. When disagreements arise, a successful partner knows when to push an issue and when to let it go. Arguing a point for the sake of playing devil’s advocate does not make for a lasting partnership.

Building successful small business partnerships often leads to victory for both parties; but it’s imperative that both players have the same goal and are on the same team.


Jonathan Bossenger

Open source software and things.

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