When I reach an agreement to partner with another company, I’m not expecting them to be just like my company in regards to how they run their business. What I do expect is to reach that agreement with a good feeling that we can work well together and that the other company has a similar culture. There are some characteristics I look for in collaboration and without those, I don’t do business with them. They are:
- Does the partnering company have the same kind of vision that you have with respect to a particular project?
- Are they profit-driven or looking to get in just to make a long term play on the same customer or industry?
- Are they willing to go the extra mile when hard work is needed?
- Are they a company that can make good business decisions and not beat around the bush in fear of making those decisions?
If the other company is concerned with achieving the goals established in regards to contracts, specific projects, long term collaboration that involves a service contract, or a building that needs to be built, then that is a company I have confidence in working with. Whatever the end goal might be, it should be written down and agreed to so that it enables both companies to establish a healthy business relationship. Integrity and honest dealings should be expected from any company, regardless of its size.
Ground Rules are of Great Importance in a Partnership
Both companies should be truthful and straightforward from the very beginning of the partnership. If you don’t have a specific capability or vice-versa, you have the capabilities but need to take precautions in utilizing those capabilities sparingly, speak up! Explain that you need to extend those capabilities a little at a time until the relationship is built up.
The absolute bottom line in this type of relationship is trust – if trust breaks down, hope that it breaks down early in the game instead of down the road. This is why you need to establish those ground rules at the start, because if there are trust issues later on, those ground rules, or lack of, can make or break the relationship.
Learning from Negative Experiences
Understand that no matter how careful you try to plan a partnership, occasionally something isn’t going to flow as expected and failure is unavoidable. You may have expended money on the partnership in some form or another and the best you can do is consider it money well spent by taking a negative and turning it into a positive learning experience. Most of the time, failures are not personal and if you can learn from every mistake that comes across your desk so that it’s not repeated, then you stand a good chance of turning that mistake into a success in your future business dealings.
One final aspect in this type of relationship is that it isn’t an absolute necessity that every single project be a homerun with heavy profitability. For example, I might be on a team that has in-depth experience in a certain type of building, perhaps a medical or a higher education building. If I lack experience in this area, I certainly want to collaborate with this team so that I can gain that experience and build invaluable past performance which is a huge necessity when pursuing work with the federal government.
If you have questions or would like to discuss establishing partnerships further, I can be reached below in the comments below or by contacting me directly and I’ll be happy to go into more detail with you.