One of the best ways to grow a business and gain attention for your brand is to team up with another company. Partnering gives each party access to the others’ skill sets and resources, which can greatly expand their individual capabilities.
For a partnership to succeed, each of the businesses involved must be fully committed and should understand their respective responsibilities. We asked a panel of Forbes Business Development Council members for their advice on creating a successful business partnership. Here are their must-have partnership characteristics — and some of the benefits these elements could bring to your collaborative efforts.
1. One Proactive “Owner” Per Partner
One person from each side of the partnership needs to “own” that partnership. The two partnership leads on either side need to check in weekly and represent their teams. As a business development professional, I have served in this role many times. It requires being proactive, communicative, organized, clear on both sides’ goals and progress, and a good relationship builder. – Robin Farmanfarmaian, Actavalon
2. Mutual Accountability
In a lot of partnerships, both teams are so excited about the upsides of doing business together that they miss the step of determining accountability, which they would take in their own organizations. There should be a discussion up front about where the accountability for results falls and what the consequences will be if goals aren’t met. – Brandon Ficara, Toco Warranty
3. True Commitment
In my experience, partnerships fail because one party isn’t prepared to fully commit. From the beginning of the relationship, both sides need to be willing to put skin into the game — both financially and resource-wise. The success of one is tightly intertwined with the success of the other. This way, objectives will always stay aligned because both parties are equally committed to the partnership. – Christian Valiulis, Automatic Payroll System
4. Focus on a Shared Goal
When companies or individuals partner to create new solutions, the only way things will stay on track is if both parties have a shared goal. If one party is only interested in serving a personal interest, then the joint effort will be one-sided. There must be a genuine mutual interest in seeing the creation thrive, and then the rest — communication, focus, and so on — will fall into place more naturally. – Ashley Cheeks, MBA, Written Success
5. Clear, Measured Expectations
Setting expectations from the beginning is key. Being direct and outlining what the expected outcomes from the partnership for both parties will look like at the beginning of the project will help determine if the partnership will be successful. The key is defining what success looks like first and then working your way back from there. – Lisa Box, WP Engine, Inc.
6. Balanced Rewards
Partnerships often dissolve over time due to the fact that one party benefits more from the partnership than the other. Over the course of time, if the party that isn’t benefiting as much isn’t finding value or reward, the effort they put toward the partnership could lessen and eventually dissolve altogether. The key to making partnerships work is to agree upon the inputs and outputs from both parties up front. – Jen Tadin, Gallagher
7. A Continuous Action Plan
The first and foremost step for teaming up to create dynamic new products or services in a joint partnership model is to come up with success criteria jointly and have a continuous action plan attached to it. Track the plan and make people accountable. Jumping right into the strategy to create the products or services, or actually creating the products or services, may not get the desired results for the partnership. – Mehul Agarwal, WinWire
8. Comparable Reputations
When you’re building a partnership, always aim to work with companies who offer the same level of service and quality reputation as yours. In my field (trucking), we partner with other companies throughout the U.S. to offer better pricing and service than we could if we had to dispatch the trailers from our home base. Having good communication and a trusting relationship is key for this to be successful. – Craig McGraw, Trans American Trucking & Warehouse
Originally published by Forbes
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