‘Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success’
In our experience of working with entrepreneurs and SME business owners a regular challenge is getting them to acknowledge that asking for help is an instrumental part of growing their business.
Coming from a mindset and reality of doing everything themselves the notion of needing external expertise or support can be a new concept. Is this something that resonates with you? If so read on..
As we take the learning from the pandemic and start to look forward companies that can harness collaborative learning, inside and outside of their organisation, are likely to see better results. Some of the old hierarchical styles of management are no longer relevant in times of such uncertainty and building autonomous teams working with external experts or business partners will reap far greater rewards.
Trust is the basis of any successful relationship
Lencioni talks about trust being the basis for building cohesive management teams and the same is true for any successful long term business partnership. Any business will have the challenge of what to insource or outsource at different stages of their growth journey. Finding the right partner who understands your business and shares your values is as important, if not more so, than whether they have the technical skill.
The ‘interview’ process
Consider the process you go through to recruit a new team member. Then compare that to how you select a new business partner or to create commercial alliances. How robust is the process? Do they understand your why? What are their motives and are they aligned with your values? Time invested is likely to impact the outcome.
‘There’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always enough time to do it over’– Jack Bergman
What value are you looking for?
Ensure you know what you want and how you will measure return. It might not be in the financials! Are they experts and do they have experience working with people like you? Will they support and help you to achieve your objectives and fill your capability gaps?
The value of an expert is they may challenge some of your long held beliefs. How will that feel?
Collaboration can create better decisions but make sure you are clear on, and voice, your non-negotiables. Finally do consider the demands on you and your internal resources. Great relationships take time to build and realise their full potential.
How easy are you to partner?
Are you a learning organisation that makes time for personal development and reflection. Being open to feedback on what it is like doing with business with you will be critical to a successful business partnership. It takes two to tango!
Are your systems and processes robust enough for easy partner integration? How will you keep your ‘partner’ informed and attached? A clear plan of actions with accountabilities will be invaluable.
Have the honest dialogue
Even the best constructed and robustly selected partnership will have its learning. Create the foundations for honest dialogue from the start. It will be critical in the ‘forming’ and ‘storming’ stages. Getting used to a new relationship and different ways of working takes time. Work at it. However if it just isn’t working make the difficult decision and agree to walk away, but do it amicably. Word travels even faster these days!
Feedback is the food of champions
Get it right and the benefits to you and your business can be critical to you achieving your vision. Be aware of your blindspots, make more informed decisions, become a learning organisation, cut through the challenges of growth with people who have been on your journey and expand your network of support. What’s more you might just make some lifelong friends!