Business partnerships can be necessary, but aren’t always easy. Explore what makes partnerships fail, and four ways you can increase their effectiveness.

“Two heads are better than one” is how the old saying goes. Two people, bringing their respective experience, skills, and opinions together, are more likely to succeed than either on their own. Many aspects of businesses are based on this model, in particular, business partnerships. However, business partnerships are prone to difficulties like differences in opinion or vision, and can often fail spectacularly. Anyone who has ever seen Shark Tankon Spectrum TV packages has watched contestants struggle between acquiring capital in return for offering a partnership or a share in profits for their product.

This is not unusual. Choosing a business partner can in many ways be far more complicated than choosing a spouse or romantic partner. But what’s the magic ingredient that makes certain partnerships succeed where others fail? That is exactly what this blog will attempt to show you.

Secrets That Make Business Partnerships Successful

Teamwork will always lead to better results than a single person on their own. Synergy is a very real phenomenon and has led many businesses to the heights of their industry. The relationship between two business partners can go one of two ways. The first is that they synergize well, align with each other’s vision and goals, and lead their partnership to success. The second is that both partners discover they are not a good fit for each other, have different business objectives, or are generally incompatible with each other. In the second case, you can guess where the partnership is headed: sooner or later, someone will ask for a dissolution.

This is exactly why choosing the right business partner is so important. It can mean the difference between business success and failure. People often involve partners for an injection of capital and expertise, as well as an extra set of shoulders to help with the heavy lifting. But despite possessing all of these, many partnerships still fail. Luckily, knowing these four secrets to a successful business partnership may help you avoid going down that road:

Recognize That Your Partner’s Strengths Are Different From Yours

A business partner is a unique human being, even if they buy into your business plan and vision. They’ll likely bring their own strengths to the table. This doesn’t just have to be a sizeable injection of capital. Partners are also likely to have acquired skills and expertise throughout their professional careers. This is valuable knowledge that can often give a business the competitive edge it needs. As a business partner, the very first thing you need to do is acknowledge that your partner is their own person. You don’t have to mold them into something you want. They already have unique strengths that can add new value and direction to the business.

Have a Clear Division of Responsibilities

Having no defined lines is a fundamental business mistake that can often lead to partnership disputes and even dissolutions. When you add a partner to your business, you need to be very clear about what roles and responsibilities the two of you will handle. There should be a formal division of labor, dividing tasks and roles between you based on your respective strengths and weaknesses.

Otherwise, you’ll constantly have to deal with interference, friction, and resentment. None of these are words you want in a business partnership equation. Clearly defined roles are the best way to minimize this risk and allow partners to comfortably handle what they’re good at.  

Ensure More Positive Interactions Than Negative Ones

A business partnership is a lot like a marriage. There is no guarantee that it’s forever. But there are ways you can ensure it proceeds smoothly for as long as possible. One of those ways is maintaining a balance between positive and negative interactions. Conflict is almost inevitable in a partnership, so you’ll often have long discussions over differences of business opinion. Sometimes, these discussions can be quite frustrating, especially when both partners are convinced they’re right.

This is fairly normal unless it’s happening very frequently. But if that is the sum of your interactions with your business partner, it could breed resentment and mistrust. To temper that, make a point of having positive interactions with your partner as well. A cup of coffee at their desk, a bite to eat at your local deli, inviting them over for christenings, Thanksgiving, or a football game, all are great avenues to explore. You don’t have to involve your business partner in every bit of your personal life. Just ensure your positive interactions outnumber the negative ones.

Make Sure There Are No Communication Gaps

Communication makes or breaks a partnership. A message matters just as much as how it is delivered as well as how it is received. You could have a genuine grievance, but a poor choice of words or a vaguely worded message can multiply the problem. Conversely, many intense business conflicts can be resolved with the right use of communication. It’s simply a matter of working on how you craft a message and how you deliver it. Try and be constructive in all your communication, instead of being overly critical or authoritative. Developing empathy with your business partner can often result in better communication and a better partnership.

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