The 5 Steps to a Successful Business Partnership

A business partnership is a great way of sharing expertise and enabling both parties to benefit professionally. Not only do you have the ability to lean on another agency or department for assistance on certain projects, but from a managerial perspective you have the capability to ask for advice from another business owner before you make any tough and potentially game-changing decisions that might backfire down the line.

Partnerships between businesses are growing in popularity at the moment as owners look for new ways to adapt and evolve. It can help them in a number of ways from building on their reputation to offering new and additional benefits for existing customers and even opening up new avenues to offer something different if you reach an agreement where you’re going to share work and even staff across certain projects.

The thing is, like all business decisions, it needs to be the right one. You can’t enter into a business partnership lightly otherwise you don’t just risk ruining a relationship and burning a few bridges, you also risk the future of your business and your employees if you get it wrong. At Meet Hugo we thought long and hard before launching our own partnership programme – Partner With Meet Hugo – and wish to work with companies who share our vision and ambition to grow in the right way.

While we’ve had great uptake on the new programme, we have to seriously think about the companies that we want to work with to ensure that the partnership is just that – a partnership – and that it works for both businesses. 

With that in mind, we wanted to share a few things that you can consider before you enter into any kind of business partnership, enabling you to go about it the right way and – hopefully – flourish.

Decide what you both want to achieve from the partnership 

First things first: what do you actually want from the partnership? Are you doing it just because it’s the done thing, because if you are it’s probably not right for you. 

A business partnership enables you to benefit from the experience and expertise of others, and vice versa. However, if you’re not willing or able to offer a like-for-like benefit for your prospective business partner you’re going to find yourself having some very awkward conversations a few months down the line when they realise that they’re putting all the time and effort into the relationship and you’re not pulling your weight.

By establishing exactly what you want to achieve from the partnership you have strong foundations to build on and goals to aim for. You can set aside time and resources to ensure that you deliver on your own promises, and this will encourage your partner to reciprocate and help you both get the right outcome.

Choose your partner wisely

Once you’ve outlined what you want from your partnership it’s time to assess your options. You wouldn’t go into any business decision without running a few tests and asking a few questions, and the same should be true for your business partnership.

Speak to a few parties and see how they feel about going into partnership with you, and then you want to see what it is they would want to achieve from the partnership.

It’s important to check that all of their goals are aligned with yours so that you can work together to reach those targets rather than focussing on your own business and performance.

At the end of the day you’re entering into a contractual obligation and you wouldn’t let a client down by ignoring what they want to achieve and simply mapping out your own objectives, so be sure to work together to meet your mutual targets. 

Once you have chosen your partner and established what it is that you want to get out of the arrangement, it’s important to get a few terms and conditions down on paper. 

Verbal agreements might work in your early conversations but if you go about things formally with a clear obligation for each party you can deliver on your promises and ensure that your partner works in the same way.

If you don’t clearly map out and understand what is expected of you and your partner then it’s very easy to simply ‘forget’ about what it is you’ve promised to do and simply reap your own benefits through your internal work and collecting what your partner has delivered to you.

If you treat your partnership like a client then you will always be absolutely clear on progress and what is currently expected of you. Checking in with your partner on a weekly or monthly basis will enable you to stay on top of projects and deliver on your promises – whatever they may be – and you can also look to arrange meet-ups so that members of both businesses have the chance to network and put a face to the name they’ve been speaking to.

Business partnerships, like all relationships, take a lot of work and many go through the initial honeymoon phase perfectly before letting things slip as they get more comfortable. It’s great being eager to impress initially but you need to ensure that that becomes the standard, not the heights.

Earn your share by pulling your weight

Finally, whatever it is you’re looking to earn through the partnership whether it is financial or tangible, be sure to pull your weight just like you would expect your partner to. It’s all well and good leaning on the expertise of your partner if they’re a larger, more experienced business than you; but if you don’t deliver on your promises they would be well within their rights to pull the plug on the arrangement leaving you high and dry without access to such support or opportunities in the future.

All relationships involve a bit of give and take, and in the business world it’s vitally important that you put as much work into your partnership as you expect to get out of it. If you’re looking for networking opportunities, new business leads and additional sources of income then you’re going to have to show that you’re deserving of such opportunities. 

If you get it right then it’s a truly wonderful feeling and a real opportunity to feel the benefits of a great business partnership.

To find out more information about how to build a successful business partnership, come back to our blog soon. Alternatively you can speak to a member of our Partnerships team about Partner With Meet Hugo – who knows, you might be our perfect partner!