Business Journals Leadership Trust is an invite-only network of influential business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in your community. Original article posted here.
When two businesses enter into a partnership, it can pay off significantly for both companies involved. By combining strengths, the partners can serve a larger and more diverse pool of clients. However, it’s important to carefully vet any potential business partner before you agree to work together.
Below, 15 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share essential factors business leaders need to review before partnering with another company. Follow their advice to put together a successful collaboration.
1. What drives them to greatness
When establishing new partnerships, make sure that your goals and values are aligned. Evaluate the potential partner by getting to know the owner(s) and/or key decision-makers. Do a deep dive into what drives the potential partner to greatness. And if it doesn’t feel like a good fit, then it is probably not a good fit. – Thomas Dominique, Battle’s Transportation, Inc.
2. Their goals and vision
Solving big problems requires collaboration, strategic partnerships and long-term relationship-building. Finding partners who share our goals, embrace our vision and are willing to take bold risks with us has always provided a path forward to game-changing solutions for us. It is also important to leverage relationships with others to eliminate duplication and increase financial impact. – Paula Grisanti, National Stem Cell Foundation
3. Their core values
Our focus in forming deep partnerships or considering acquisitions begins with comparing core values, visions and operating systems. Partners must be a core values fit, share a common vision and commit to a single operating system/management system. This commitment includes complete agreement around the new accountability/organizational chart in advance of a deal. – Jason Dunn, DACS Asphalt & Concrete
4. Whether your services, products and processes are complementary
You want to collaborate with your partners, not compete with them. Take the time to identify and articulate clear roles, responsibilities, boundaries of authority, processes and so on. Have the tough conversations on money and who “owns” the client relationship. As with any partnership, communication, relationship building and trust are essential. – Mary Abbajay, Careerstone Group LLC
5. Whether there’s a culture mesh
Culture mesh and complementary capabilities are the two things we look for when offering advice on a merger or acquisition. Understanding the culture mesh allows you to create a great transition focus for the two companies. For the clients of the new enterprise, offering a broader, complementary range of services will drive growth with minimal competition. – Paul Herring, 101 Solutions LLC
6. Their service philosophy
One important aspect is to ensure that the two businesses have the same business philosophy as it relates to serving clients and taking care of their staff. The last thing you want to have is a conflict with a partner while trying to serve a client. – Jerry Ramos, Ramos Consulting, LLC
7. Whether they’ll commit to an end goal
Before you begin a partnership, you both need to commit to an end result. Each party must understand what is required on both sides to get to this goal through collaboration and communication. Establishing this framework will lead to incredible results and a long-term partnership. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
8. Their willingness to have candid conversations
Beyond the obvious one of wanting the same thing for the same or similar reasons, members of each organization must have the skills and willingness to have candid conversations “across the line” with their partner. Too often, things bump along until they blow up, even though much of the trauma could be prevented by maintaining alignment and clarity along the journey. – Cheryl Lynn Mobley, reCalibrate LLC
9. Whether they have a partnership mindset
Prospective partners must understand that partnerships need nurturing. If they’re too busy to do lunch or a call once a month, they don’t have a partnership mindset. That time is crucial for understanding what you each do. Knowing each other’s strengths and differentiators will help each of you recognize opportunities. – Ryan Williams, The Websuasion Group LLC
10. Their experience
The experience of a potential partner is a critical factor because they must have the ability to perform the job without you. They must have the skills needed to operate the business in the event you are out of the office or need to take time off. – Wesleyne Greer, Transformed Sales
11. Their motives and business goals
It takes more than a handshake between partnering organizations to ensure that collaboration will succeed. When vetting potential partners, one must determine their corporate motives and business goals to develop an equitable and mutually satisfying endeavor. One important aspect to consider throughout the due diligence process is whether or not the firms share core values. – Scott Young, PennComp Outsourced IT
12. Their strengths
Partnering is a great business strategy. However, not defining a target and lacking focus are the kisses of death. Learn one another’s strengths, and ensure they are complementary. Set a target, define roles and responsibilities, value one another’s contributions and stay focused. If you agree on key points and possess the will and capacity to invest in your mutual success, it’s happy hunting. – Craig Parisot, ATA, LLC
13. Their client base and offerings
Understand which players in your marketplace offer complementary skills. For example, in our space, it would be a VOIP provider. We offer IT services, and we could get into VOIP. However, just because you can get into something doesn’t mean you should. Look for partners who have the same client base but who are not direct competitors. You will complement each other. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology
14. What’s motivating them
It is important to understand the motivation of your potential partner. The aim is to look for a long-term relationship rather than a transactional one. Look for someone with the same corporate mindset who gives the same importance to your company values — someone who is committed to doing the right things for the right reasons. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting
15. Whether your clients will benefit
Is the partnership a win-win for all parties involved? Both of the businesses and all of their clients need to benefit from the partnership. When a larger pool of problems is solved by the two businesses working together, a joint venture is a no-brainer. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
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