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12 Business Partnership Tips for Small Business Owners

6 Mins read

To help you build and sustain successful business partnerships, we’ve gathered twelve invaluable tips from CEOs and founders. These industry leaders share insights ranging from the importance of giving more value than you take to the necessity of establishing a mutually beneficial value proposition. Dive into their expert advice to strengthen your business collaborations.

Give More Value Than You Take

As a small-business owner who relies on many partnerships with other business owners, I recommend setting up long-term relationships by giving more value than you take. As a web designer, I work with SEO experts, copywriters, illustrators, and tech VAs. The only way I’ve built meaningful connections with business owners at the top of their field is by entering into a give-and-take relationship where the former is greater than the latter.

For instance, it may take me all of five minutes to help a potential business partner set up an email sequence or a new web page, but it may have taken them two hours. By offering this as a way to help a fellow professional out, I’ve developed a system of trust and reliability. I’m also proving my skills to them so they, in turn, may recommend me to possible leads.

In a world where everyone is after a quick win, it pays to provide genuine value to people you see working with long-term. It will pay for itself in the future. Providing value equals gaining trust.

Clare Walter, Owner, Clare Walter Design

Set Mutual Goals and Individual Responsibilities

I’ve been running a digital marketing agency for 15 years, and I’ve witnessed many business partnerships established by my clients perish simply because they weren’t on the same page with their partners.

A few years ago, one of my clients partnered up with a businessman in the same industry, and they verbally set mutual goals. However, neither of them considered the responsibilities each would have in accomplishing these objectives. When they failed to reach their intended targets, they pointed fingers at each other, and heated arguments ensued.

For that matter, it’s of immense importance for two partners to put their mutual goals into writing and set individual responsibilities for reaching them. That way, there will never be any questions about accountability.

Leslie Gilmour, CEO of Digital Marketing Agency, BeFound

Prioritize Building Trust

One effective strategy for maintaining a business connection is to prioritize open communication. This means being honest and upfront about your objectives, expectations, and responsibilities from the start. It’s important that both parties thoroughly understand the goals of the partnership and what each brings to the table.

Regularly stay in touch with your partner to ensure smooth operations and address any concerns or issues promptly. Additionally, trust and respect play roles in building an enduring business alliance. While it takes time to establish a foundation of trust, it is vital for fostering a long-term partnership. Always strive to be genuine, reliable, and considerate when engaging with your business associate.

Camille Fortuno, B2B Marketing Research Specialist, UpCity

Start with a Joint Project

A successful business partnership has been enjoyed for the past three years, after a couple of failed attempts along the entrepreneurial journey. One tip for forming this type of relationship is to start off with a joint-venture project that will last a few months before legally “going all in.” This allows the time and experience to work with the partner to determine if the working styles and values are compatible.

Maintaining a successful partnership has been achieved by establishing roles and responsibilities from the outset, based on unique strengths and expertise. Meetings are held at the beginning of each week to review accomplishments, issues, and upcoming priorities in each of the respective areas, as well as the overlapping areas for which there is joint responsibility. 

Open, honest, and frequent communication has been a key success factor.

Deirdre Harter, Co-Founder, CPA, Business Strategist, Encore Empire

Align Long-Term Visions

Nurturing a successful partnership is centered on aligning our long-term visions as a mortgage broker and business owner alongside my wife. Regularly touching base and sharing our aspirations for the company’s growth, customer service, and work-life balance is crucial to ensure we’re on the same page.

This alignment is the pillar of our decision-making, a strong commitment to each other, and ultimately, the business’ success.

Mike Roberts, Co-Founder, City Creek Mortgage

Promote Honest and Open Communication

Communication that is honest and open is one of the most important parts of building and keeping strong business relationships. Setting up a strong foundation based on honest conversations sets the stage for people to understand each other and work toward the same goals. 

No matter if you’re talking about what you’re looking forward to, sharing what you’ve learned, or dealing with a problem, it’s important to create an atmosphere of clear and honest communication. This helps trust and teamwork grow. Partners are better able to use each other’s skills, deal with complicated situations, and adapt to change as a whole when they can talk to each other freely. 

Communication is also a key part of keeping the relationship healthy and lasting. It gives you the tools to solve problems and find new ways to work together. In the end, promoting open communication not only strengthens the bonds between business partners, but it also paves the way for long-term success and relationships.

Hassan Sanders, CEO, Diabetic Insurance Solutions

Partner with People of Different Strengths

One of the best things you can do when forming business partnerships is to work with people with different strengths. 

For example, I’m great at public speaking but didn’t quite understand IT security when I started my business. Since I was aware of my weakness, I knew it was important to find a partner who was well-versed in cybersecurity. When you work with people with different strengths, it’s easier to cover your bases and build the rest of your team on a sound foundation of leaders with diverse skill sets and traits.

Syed Balkhi, Founder, WPBeginner

Define Clear Expectations and Communication Channels

One invaluable tip for forming and maintaining successful business partnerships is to establish clear expectations and open communication channels from the outset. 

At the beginning of any partnership, take the time to outline each party’s roles, responsibilities, and expectations in a formal agreement. This creates a foundation of transparency and mutual understanding, reducing the chance of misunderstandings later on. Periodically review these expectations and engage in open dialogue to address any evolving needs or challenges. 

This proactive approach ensures that the partnership adapts and thrives, creating a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.

James Sanderson, Creative Director, EverydaySomething

Focus on Mutual Growth

When partnering with any other organization, the focus has to be on mutual growth. The partnership has to be reciprocal; everyone has to benefit. Even friendly competition can turn into insecurity and sour a partnership. 

We have to be very careful of whom we form business partnerships with because many of us let personal gain get in the way of mutual gain. So, before you partner with someone, due diligence is key. And even then, it’s a gamble.

Jared Day, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder, Nuleev

Treat Partnerships Like Meaningful Relationships

Business partnerships are no different from being in a band or being in a marriage; tend to them like you would any other meaningful relationship. The easiest way to do that is to check in regularly with your partners and simply ask, “How are you doing?”

Leslie Chicoine, CEO and Head of Product, SunChaser

Understand Conflict Resolution

Understanding conflict resolution is something I think is necessary in forming and maintaining a successful partnership. There will always be issues that arise, and how you choose to deal with them as a team is more important than the solution itself.

I find it beneficial to educate yourself on conflict resolution and how to effectively solve problems. If both members of the team understand this, then when conflict arises, they are dealt with quickly and efficiently, which furthers your success as partners.

Kevin D’Arcy, CEO, DocCapture

Establish a Mutually Beneficial Value Proposition

One crucial tip for forming and maintaining successful business partnerships is to establish a well-defined, mutually beneficial value proposition. This involves thoroughly understanding the unique strengths, resources, and expertise that each partner brings to the table, and how they complement each other. 

By aligning the partnership around a clear value proposition, both parties can have a shared understanding of the purpose and benefits of the collaboration. This not only helps in creating a firm foundation for the partnership but also ensures that both partners are invested in the venture’s success.

Furthermore, proactive and continuous communication is key to the longevity of the partnership. Regularly scheduled check-ins and open lines of dialogue allow partners to discuss progress, share insights, and address any challenges promptly.

Beth Worthy, President, GMR Transcription Services, Inc.

Brett Farmiloe is the founder of Featured, a Q&A platform that connects brands with expert insights.

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