How to form partnerships with other small businesses

Published · 2 min read

Successful teaming relationships can help you gain experience, offer a more comprehensive service, take on bigger contracts, or reach a broader client base.

You need to learn how to choose the right partners and communicate effectively. Just like anything else, some relationships are going to very good and productive, some not so, and others just fall apart and don’t work at all.

If you want to try partnering with another small business, here are some tips to help towards a successful relationship:

1. Be honest to yourself about your weakness

Before you team up, assess your strengths and weaknesses. Remember, you’re looking for someone who will be right next to you and compliment your offering. You have to be open about what you really bring to the relationship. Ideally, you’ll complement each other’s weaknesses.

2. Be open to teaming with competitors

Your instinct might be to look for partners that offer a service you don’t, but your best asset may actually be your competition. Even small differences in what you deliver to a client could make you a perfect match. Together, you could offer a more comprehensive service or tackle a bigger project that individually you’d both miss out on.

3. Set clear ground rules at the beginning

At the outset, make sure your expectations are aligned. Communication gets difficult when people have different expectations. Agree on logistics, as well as a game plan for potential problems, such as a client who doesn’t pay or a dispute you can’t resolve. That preparation will give you a framework for resolving any issues down the line.

4. Keep written records of everything

To make sure everyone stays on the same page, write everything down. This doesn’t have to be meticulous; it can be as simple as writing meeting notes and storing them in a shared Google document. The notes will clarify any confusion and give you a written record if anything goes wrong.

5. Watch out for red flags

When considering potential partners, make sure they reply to emails in a timely fashion, arrive on time for meetings, and deliver what they promise. If the other party is unwilling to compromise, that’s a huge red flag. Ultimately, trust your gut instinct, as you would when hiring a new employee.

6. Be fair

Lastly, always treat your partner fairly. Your actions should be for the mutual benefit of both of you. Your success is reliant on your ability to work together, so having their best interests at heart will help you too and keep you both in a win-win partnership.

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