Partnerships are possible in business. I am lucky to be involved in several long-term, rewarding partnerships with clients and suppliers. However, partnerships only work when both sides are happy. Here’s how to identify a business partner.
A good partnership is invaluable to your business because it can make you better, and has the potential to improve service, operations and efficiency. It may even save you money but it’s about much more than the bottom line.
A good partnership helps make your business more enjoyable. A close bond with someone who can deliver for you time and again, and is always there for you? That’s gold.
While they take time to mature, there are signs early on that a genuine partnership can be formed. What sets a potential partner apart from your bog-standard supplier?
1. They take the time to know your business
A partner will want to dig a little deeper, whereas a mere supplier will pick up the bare essentials and probably leave it there. A partner takes genuine interest in your business’s challenges, plans and opportunities. They don’t just want your business, they want to make you better.
2. You like spending time with them
Business is always more rewarding when working with people you like. This is not always possible but at the very least you need people with whom you can find common ground and mutual respect. A partnership is not possible if major personality clashes or feelings of dislike are present.
We always like to get to know our suppliers and clients before engaging in a big commitment. Sometimes, this might slow our decision-making, but our experience shows this getting-to-know-you period is critically important. You will weed out those who are insincere and those who are either after a quick buck or are just not that into you.
3. They put your interests first
A partner will look for ways to help you, even if it means sacrificing a little of their own business. We are all trying to be more efficient, but a partner will actually identify areas to improve even if it means some sacrifice to them. These are crucial steps to building trust.
4. They stick with you through the tough times
Change is the only constant in business, and sometimes this brings tough times. By tough, I mean anything that might test your relationship.
It could be that one side has made an error, mismanaged a change in personnel or let standards slip. There may be some heated discussions, but a partner will work through the issues constructively and allow for time to make amends.
This extends to tough times in business. If one side is struggling for a period, the other may need to dial things down for a while, accommodate the other party and keep the bigger picture in mind.
A great partner will do anything they can to help. Any business can experience a temporary dip, but working through it with understanding and patience will allow both parties to enjoy the good times when they return.
Walter Scremin is the general manager of national delivery transport firm Ontime Group.