The Power of Partnerships in Business

May 8, 2024

by Kim Burmeister, CEO

Every spring without fail, I go to start up my lawnmower, and inevitably, something doesn’t work. By now, you’d think I’d know to test it ahead of time, but regardless of my lack of planning, fixing it isn’t my strong suit. While I could scour the internet for troubleshooting guides, I know it would take me far longer and likely end up costing more in the long run.

This scenario sums up the power of partnerships. When we leverage our strengths and focus on what we do best, we can resolve issues quickly and deliver outstanding results. But when we stray outside our areas of expertise, things tend to get messy, and delivery times suffer. 

As a business, it’s crucial to understand your core competencies and areas of growth. Embracing opportunities that align with these growth areas is worth the investment. Although learning can add costs, it acts as a multiplier when building upon strengths. However, when we reach too far outside of our core competencies, it becomes a distraction that risks the loss of money, morale, or trust. This is where leveraging an external partner becomes a powerful choice. 

Why Partner?

Here are some reasons why partnering can strengthen your business:

  • Risk mitigation: Projects come with inherent risks. Bringing in an experienced partner can help minimize them.
  • Innovation: Different perspectives generate creative solutions, driving innovation and leading to unique outcomes.
  • Credibility and Reputation: A failed product can erode credibility quickly. Partnering with an experienced team safeguards your reputation.
  • Scalability: Combined strengths and bandwidth allow your team to focus on what matters most while collectively ensuring all work is delivered.
  • Problem Solving: A wider skill set enhances problem solving capabilities due to varied experiences and backgrounds.
  • Business Surges: External partnerships help meet spikes in demand without the long-term burden of full time staff.
Selecting the Right Partner

Once you’ve decided that a partnership is the right move, how do you vet and choose the ideal partner? Although evaluation criteria vary based on the specific need, here are some consistent themes:

  • Alignment with Vision and Value: Partners should share similar values and long-term vision to prevent future conflicts. 
  • Complementary Skills and Expertise: Identify partners who complement your abilities and can introduce new skills that can bolster your business.
  • Reputation: Research past business dealings and reputation in the industry to avoid damaging your credibility.
  • Communication Style: Effective and clear communication is essential to prevent misunderstandings and inefficiencies.
  • Conflict Resolution Skills: Choose a partner with a constructive approach to resolving conflicts and differences.
  • Cultural Fit: Make sure their culture is not too different from yours, or integrating teams could be challenging.
  • Exit Strategy: Understand how the partnership will be dissolved if necessary and agree on fair exit terms.
Questions to Ask Potential Partners

Dig deeper by asking these questions to evaluate their fit:

  • How would you describe your core values?
  • How do you see this partnership helping you achieve your goals and vision?
  • What unique skills or expertise do you believe you can bring?
  • Are there specific roles or responsibilities you are particularly suited to handle?
  • Could you share past successes or challenges from previous partnerships? 
  • How do you typically approach building and maintaining your reputation?
  • What communication style do you prefer in business dealings?
  • How do you handle disagreements or conflicts?
  • How would you describe your corporate culture and the way your team typically works?
  • How do you invest in your team?
  • What terms would warrant an exit from a partnership?
  • What is a fair exit strategy between partners?
Customer references also provide valuable third-party feedback on how potential partners perform. 

Partnerships in business hold immense potential when thoughtfully cultivated and strategically aligned. They allow us to focus on our core strengths while leveraging complementary resources and skills to navigate challenges, drive innovation, and deliver exceptional results. Choose your partners wisely, and together, you can build something greater than the sum of its parts.