No relationship is perfect whether it be personal or business partnerships. Regardless of how compatible the two parties are, it takes some time until they become a real team by learning each other’s habits and getting accustomed to one another. It also takes a lot of effort by both parties for this to work. With that in mind, here are nine principles to abide by in order to improve your business partnership.
1. Be Honest About What You Want
The first thing you need to understand is the fact that most people in the business world have the same long-term interest. Everyone wants to grow their business, increase revenue and gain prestige. However, the way in which you want to get there is what matters the most. We’re talking about vision and corporate values.
For instance, eco-friendliness is sometimes merely a PR tool to convert those who are green-minded to your cause. For others, this is a core principle that’s deeply rooted in their set of beliefs. While, in theory, these two types of entrepreneurs are supposed to function as a unit, in practice, they’re highly likely to engage in conflict over a wide variety of issues.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Bad News
Your partners need someone they can trust and how can they do that if you avoid being the bearer of bad news? No one needs a fair-weather friend, especially in a situation where keeping a secret may diminish the efficiency of your organization. The worst thing that can happen to an entrepreneur, as well as any successful individual out there, is to surround themselves with yes-people.
Sometimes, in order to gain favor, your followers might nod and support your every idea, regardless of how ridiculous it is. Unfortunately, even though this may sound quite obvious, it’s a problem that even some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, athletes and celebrities encounter. With you on their side, your partner will never be in that danger and, if you’re lucky, they’ll be there to return the favor.
3. Be Direct
Expecting from other people to read your mind is never a good idea, which is why you need to learn how to be more direct and straightforward. We’re not just talking about avoiding the truth but also about the involuntary use of ambiguities. Sometimes, you’ll give out a piece of information or a suggestion that can be interpreted in more than one way, which can, later on, cause a massive problem in communication.
Try to be as direct as possible and clarify any issue that you believe might come off as confusing. The problem lies in the fact that you’ll often be unaware of the ambiguity, after all, if you knew it was there you would have avoided it in the first place. Therefore, you need to believe that your partner will ask if something is not clear enough.
4. Inspire Your Partner
Ideally, you would work with someone you can look up to, someone you can inspire. It’s, therefore, only logical to assume that your partners are expecting the same. Therefore, you need to learn how to act as a source of inspiration to your partners.
In order to figure this out, you need to have a long conversation with them, where you’ll learn which values they hold in the highest regard. Being the first one to arrive at work and the last one to leave usually does the trick but this won’t work with absolutely everyone. Preparedness, problem-solving and high analytical skills are much more reliable. This is why you need to keep growing as an expert and develop new skills for your partner to discover every day.
5. Show That You Care
Telling your partner that you care about their wellbeing is one thing but showing them that you care is something completely different. There are some who try to solve this with gifts, yet, this method has one particular problem – with gifts it’s obvious that you’re trying to win them over. Therefore, it might be more effective (and a lot subtler) for you to try and do this with gestures. For instance, when they’re going to a business meeting, you can arrange that they’re picked up by cheap car for hire. In this way, they won’t have to bother with cab or Uber and you’ll demonstrate that you care about them without breaching the budget.
6. Don’t Contradict them in Front of Others
Previously, we’ve discussed the danger of being a yes-person, yet, arguing or contrasting opinions is something that needs to be done in private. First of all, contradicting your partner shows weakness in your relationship, which is something that staff members, competitors, and employees may look forward to.
As for the way in which your partner will interpret this might be quite dangerous for your future together. First of all, telling people that they’re wrong in front of a large audience is one of the easiest ways to put them to shame, even show a lack of respect. Needless to say, this is also one of the easiest ways for you to offend your partner and break your partnership. This leads us to the next point…
7. Take Their Side
Whenever confronted by the outsider, you need to take the side of your partner. If you don’t agree with them, tell them of this in private but, to the outside world, you need to look unified and consolidated at all times. Once they realize that you’re always there to support them, your partners might start being a lot more honest and forthcoming towards you.
Moreover, it’s your relationship towards them that matters the most, which means that they will probably turn more tolerant, even towards things that would otherwise annoy them. All in all, be ready and willing to take their side.
8. Personal Life Matters, as Well
A lot of people assume that the ability to make money together is all that matters. In fact, a lot of guides argue against going into business with a friend, acquaintance or a family member. Still, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to build a solid personal relationship with your business partner.
You don’t have to invite them to poker night, however, why not schedule a face-to-face meeting to discuss the latest market trends in a restaurant instead of your corporate office? Why not start a conversation with a question about their personal life and continue for a while on that subject? Try actively listening and you might learn a lot about your partner.
9. Don’t Let Them Tread on You
Lastly, sometimes you need to stand your ground even against your partner. A successful business partnership is not necessarily one without conflict. In fact, if you avoid conflict, chances are that you’ll create a business partnership that’s favorable only for one side – your partner. Of course, entering a business with someone who’s exploitative or abusive is never a good idea, however, every entrepreneur’s first impulse is to try and see how far they can go. It’s up to you to stand up for yourself.
Sometimes, the person you’re trying to build a relationship with is just not right for you. By recognizing this in time you can save yourself from a world of problems. Nonetheless, there are some relationships that are just not perfect in the beginning but with enough work could be turned around. The key factor in telling one from another is some good will from both partners to work towards the improvement of the relationship. In this field, any one-sided effort is doomed to failure.