In it together: partnering up in a changing world

How businesses can make sure they're getting the most out of a partnership and cope with volatility

In it together: partnering up in a changing world

With the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump surprising many, the only thing that seems to be certain right now is uncertainty. Many entrepreneurs and executives seeking to embrace change and move forward in an increasingly turbulent world are turning to partnerships.

These can range from informal product purchase agreements to vendor preference agreements or even complex partnership arrangements such as joint ventures. Whatever the model, it’s important to find the right partner and plan for the impact this change will have on your company.

Coaching is one way to help you explore what challenges your business might face in the future and the extra resources you might need to stay resilient. Realising your weaknesses will also enable you to decide whether the partnership route is appropriate and which partner to go with. Your partner should complement you so you can focus on what you’re best at. Options could include joining an association or forming an alliance (a union or association formed for mutual benefit especially between organisations). Alternatively, a partnership arrangement, whereby two or more individuals share the profits and liabilities, might be a better solution. The right partner should benefit your business and, more importantly, your clients.

It’s important that you and your partner have common values, so you should do your research and find out about their work and values. And when we talk about values, we mean the things that are so important to you that you consider them to be non-negotiable. If you commit time and energy to something that violates one of your core values, you’ll start to feel resentful or frustrated. This is where your gut is useful, so pay attention if something doesn’t feel quite right. This of course also means that you’ll have to have a clear sense of what your company’s values are and what you’ll bring to the partnership.

Once trust and respect are established, you can move forward to develop a vision for the partnership. This is where you need to ensure the expectations on both sides are clear and that both parties have been open about what they need to get out of the partnership and what their goals are. For your part, you need to put yourself in your clients’ shoes and make sure the partnership will benefit them too.

Circumstances and priorities can change with time, so good communication at all points is hugely important to keep the partnership on track. As well as scheduling regular meetings, you need to know what agreements are needed to ensure the partnership is established, what you’ll do if things go wrong and how you’ll respond if new opportunities arise. If you do the preparation early on there will be far less angst further down the road.

Finally, keeping a positive attitude will ensure negotiations remain on an even keel. As Mizuta Masahide, a 17th century Japanese poet and samurai, said: “Barn’s burnt down – now I can see the moon”.

This article comes courtesy of AoEC, which provides individuals, teams and organisations executive coach training, consultancy, executive coaching and leadership and management development in the UK and around the world.


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