partnerSMARTS

Partnering with companies that provide complementary services, products or skills can be an immensely powerful tool to give your clients added value. The New Zealand SME environment can gain huge advantage through this approach if they want to compete and survive on an international stage.

It will only succeed however, if there is a mature approach to relationship management and it will require effort and commitment from both sides to make the relationship work. It is not always an easy option, as there are many variables to consider.

10 tips towards finding the right partner

1. Do they share your values, entrepreneurial spirit, and vision?

Of all the things to look for in a partner this is probably the most important. You will need to be able to communicate effectively with your partner to make decisions, set goals, and drive the business forward. If you partner with someone that is reluctant, combative, or unable to consider your viewpoint it will be harder to be successful.

2. Do they bring skills and experience to your business?

A good business partner should have skills that support and compliment your own. No single person is a master of all things business. If you have great interpersonal skills but poor business finance skills, consider a partner who understands business accounting. The more skills you and your partner bring to the business together the easier it will be to start, plan, grow, and run your business.

3. Do they have a good marketplace reputation?

If they have a negative marketplace image it may carry over into your business. They may have a good product but overcoming image credibility issues takes time, focus and energy, which you need for your own business not theirs.

4. Do they have resources you can tap into?

It is great to have a business partner that has financial resources, but there are other contributions a partner can bring to the business that can be just as valuable. A partner with a strong business network, industry connections, client list, or certain credentials and expertise can also increase the value of your business and improve your chances for achieving long-term success.

5. Do they have good business ethics?

Only enter into partnerships with someone you can trust. Look for someone who values honesty and practices good personal and business ethics. A poorly chosen business partner may take your ideas to enhance his own business, not yours.

6. Are they financially stable?

A company in the middle of a financial crisis may not be the best choice to go into business with for a variety of reasons. Money, asset, and time management skills are critical for small business entrepreneurs and someone who has grossly mismanaged their own business finances may not have the skills or discipline to make a business partnership work.

7. Do you respect their approach to business?

You should never partner with someone that you do not respect. The main purpose in forming a partnership is to achieve success as a team. You may not value the opinion and efforts of a company you do not respect at least on a professional level. You also want to partner with someone that will show your business the same respect.

8. Do they have complementary skills to your own team?

Don’t duplicate yourself. If your business is great on marketing, but weak on personal selling choose a company that can share your vision and values but not overlap on skills.

9. Do they reach your target market?

Choose the companies that are a best fit for reaching your target market, have a client list and have active involvement with associations in your industry.

10. Are they prepared to share equal effort, time and money?

Define roles and responsibilities, even have a legal agreement and ensure that someone oversees the process to keep things moving forward.