Virtually no business can operate completely independently in the production and offering of its good or services. It relies on suppliers, vendors, and other partners at different points in the business model to carry out what it provides to consumers. Because these vendors’ services are vital to the businesses that need them, it’s important that all partnerships are mutually beneficial to maximize impact and return on investment on all sides.
I’ve been in a client-service industry for 20 years, and my full-service advertising agency, Fingerpaint, acts as a vendor and strategic partner for a number of national and global clients. Prior to starting Fingerpaint, I worked on the client side of advertising. Through my experience, I’ve gotten a 360-degree view of business partnerships and learned many reasons they can either succeed or fail.
Stay Grounded in Trust
One of the most basic qualities needed for a successful business partnership is a mutual trust between the businesses. While each party has something to gain by working together, they must also trust that the other will do their best work on behalf of their company. Trusting your business partners is truly essential to the success of your relationship with them and will likely have positive implications on your business’s performance as a result.
Define the Relationship
There may be different types of relationships that come about in the business world. Sometimes, you might need a partner who will simply execute what directives you give them. Maybe that partner will help you implement a system, equipment, or process, and once complete, you won’t need to communicate with them frequently. Other times, however, your business might be looking for a more strategic partner that acts as a true extension of your existing team and helps you innovate and solve challenges to reach your business objectives. No matter what type of partner you need, it’s important that both teams are on the same page, and expectations for the business relationship are established at the outset.
Keep Checking In
A business partnership is like any personal relationship—it takes work to maintain. Make sure you schedule regular check-ins with your business partners to get and give feedback on how things could be even better. Maybe you’ll find that you need to communicate more or less frequently with them or adjust the services they provide to you. Keeping a channel open for constructive conversations ensures that the relationship will stay strong and produce better outcomes for everyone involved.
Since businesses rely on each other to deliver on the promises they make to consumers, it’s in everyone’s vested interest to trust each other, do their best work, and regularly communicate about how to keep improving. These are just the foundations of building a successful business partnership, but if you put them into practice and select the right partners, you’ll have a much better chance of reaching your business’s goals and objectives.