Although your sentiments might be telling you would collaborate wonderfully with your siblings as business partners, in reality, that is seldom true. There is a reason emotions need to be out of the picture when speaking of business partnerships. They need to be based on mutual respect and appreciation, while the sentiment of ‘liking’ somebody isn’t always present. If you are in search of a business partner and don’t know how to go about establishing a functional long-term relationship, here are a few ways to achieve that.
Find common values
The core of every functional relationship is the values that the partners share. It would be difficult to establish a complete and harmonious collaboration if your ideas and goals differ drastically, such as, for example, a pro-green company having a supplier who pollutes the environment in the production process. Such a match is doomed to fail after some time while a shared cause, goal or idea strengthen the bond and facilitate collaboration on a daily basis.
For starters, try to find individual elements that represent a mutual ground with your prospective partners after which you can then build new goals and ideas together. Working together on one project can turn into collaboration across many if there is an innate common ground and understanding among the two parties involved.
Define everything in advance
Misunderstandings have a dreadful way of coming right back at you when you least expect them and if not cleared right away, there is a tendency of them growing into a real issue. This is why certain things need to be transparent at the early beginnings, and this especially goes for the individual roles of the partners.
Businesses partner up for the sake of mutual success and usually, everyone brings different things to the plate which is something to leverage but based on an agreement. If success is what you are after, which you most probably are, you need to be clear who takes care of what, in which manner the reporting will go, and what can be decided upon individually and what mutually.
Go the extra mile
To reinforce the partnership, you should openly acknowledge the things achieved and you can show your appreciation with a simple birthday gift or praising your partner’s efforts at a mutual meeting. These practices are especially important for your foreign business partners for fear of misunderstanding if you are not ‘vocal’ and transparent.
Imagine them coming to you for a meeting – let’s say they are flying all the way from Germany to New Zealand – chances are that, besides doing business, they would also want to do some sightseeing. It would be a nice gesture to rent them a comfortable car from an agency, such as New Zealand’s Avis car rental, that comes with a GPS navigator and a system to outsmart traffic jams, display the accurate weather forecast, and help them look for parking space. If you greet partners so cordially, you can expect a similar greeting and improved collaboration.
Communicate openly and frequently
As already mentioned, transparency is one of the crucial elements in a lasting and healthy business partnership and to achieve it, you need to communicate openly and in a timely manner. What’s important is to agree on the means and frequency of the meetings in advance, with the option of scheduling additional ones. You need to take meetings seriously, prepare in advance and not cancel them at the last minute.
This means that e-mailing is not enough but you need to incorporate video calls as often as possible and if somebody is not in the office, but for instance, on a train ride, you can brief them in quickly via an audio call. This will help with handling any disagreements the moment they arise and being overall more efficient.
Put everything in writing
While trust is as important as people say it is, it is better to have everything clearly written down than to allow for some unintentional omission to be the end of a potentially successful partnership. Not to mention that you would actually be protecting your business if the roles, goals, business structure, invested capital, the manner decisions are made and disputes settled are all noted down in a written form.
You will make sure everyone’s interests are protected if you write everything together before starting the collaboration. And in case you aren’t able to agree on something important, then you would know on time that it is better for you to part ways.
Judging from the things listed above, one would correctly conclude that maintaining a business relationship takes time and effort but the benefits of a harmonious business partnership can be manifold. It mostly boils down to being sincere from the start and set some ground rules to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes. In addition to that, you can always throw in a few nice gestures to show your appreciation and all of that will make a lot of difference in terms of the mutual success you can achieve.