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3 Ways to Strengthen Your Strategic Business Partnerships


A strong business partnership is critical to the success of any organization. After all, two heads are better than one, and when you have a partner to bounce ideas off of, make decisions with, and share the workload, you’re more likely to achieve your goals. But like any relationship, business partnerships need to be nurtured and cared for if they’re going to thrive. Here are three ways you can strengthen your strategic business partnerships.

Define Roles and Responsibilities from the Outset

From day one, you and your business partner must be clear about who is responsible for what. Trying to figure out who should do what on the fly is a recipe for disaster. By taking the time to sit down and map out each person’s roles and responsibilities, you’ll avoid much frustration down the road.

Assigning Responsibilities

As part of your role definition process, it’s important to identify which tasks each person is best suited for. This will help ensure that the workload is evenly distributed and that everyone can do what they do best and contribute maximum value to the partnership. You can assign roles and responsibilities based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Skills and strengths
  • Areas of interest
  • Workload capacity
  • Geographic location

What are the Roles of the Partners?

Each partner could implement the following active roles:

  • Strategies in marketing and product development
  • Tactics in the financing, human resources, and operations
  • Sharing of information on suppliers, customers, and technology
  • Jointly developing plans, budgets, and schedules
  • Reviewing progress and making decisions together
  • Coordinating the actions of each partner to avoid duplication or conflict

Each partner could also take on the following passive roles:

  • Serving as a sounding board for ideas
  • Resolving disagreements between the other partners
  • Providing advice and mentorship
  • Strategically sharing resources, such as suppliers, customers, and technology

Communicate Openly and Often

In any relationship, communication is key. This is especially true in business partnerships, where miscommunications can easily lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and lost opportunities. To avoid this, make sure you’re communicating openly and often with your partner. This doesn’t mean bombarding them with constant updates or emails, but it does mean regularly being open about your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Doing so will help ensure that both partners are always on the same page.

Create a Communication Plan

It’s important to have regular communication with your business partner, but it’s also important to be clear about the communication’s frequency, method, and purpose. Creating a communication plan will help ensure everyone is on the same page and avoid misunderstandings about expectations. When creating your communication plan, be sure to consider the following:

Frequency: How often do you need to communicate?

Method: What method of communication will you use? Email, phone, video chat, in person?

Purpose: What is the purpose of each communication? To update, to brainstorm, to vent?

Keeping the Lines of Communication Open

You can do a few things to keep the lines of communication open with your business partner, even when things are busy or stressful. First, make sure you’re both using the same method of communication and that you’re checking in regularly. Second, set aside time each week or month to get in touch, even if it’s just for a quick chat. Finally, be sure to communicate both the good and the bad news. You’ll create a more open and honest relationship by sharing both the highs and the lows.

Be Willing to Compromise

In any relationship, there will be times when you have to compromise. This is especially true in business partnerships, where you’ll often have to make decisions that affect both parties. While it’s important to stand your ground on the things that matter most, it’s also important to be willing to give ground on the less important things.

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Make Joint Decisions

Rather than making decisions unilaterally, involving your partner in the decision-making process is important whenever possible. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree on everything—but it does mean that both partners should be involved in major decisions affecting the business. Joint decisions could be made in a legal and orderly manner by doing the following:

Employ a Lawyer

Even if things are good, it’s important to have a lawyer who can protect both partners’ interests. Businesses are tricky, and unforeseen legal issues can often arise. Hire a business litigation lawyer since they have a wide spectrum of professional services, including the following:

  • Reviewing and drafting partnership agreements
  • Resolving partner disputes
  • Negotiating business contracts
  • Advising on corporate governance matters
  • Offering tax advice
  • Protecting intellectual property

Through a Democratic Approach

With a democratic approach, major decisions are made through a vote between the partners. This type of decision-making is often used when there is no clear leader, and all partners are equal. In a democratic partnership, it’s important to have clear rules and procedures for making decisions. This could include requiring a majority or supermajority vote or having a tie-breaking vote by the senior partner.

In the End

A strong business partnership can be a major asset for any organization—but only if it’s well-managed and well-cared-for. By taking the time to nurture your partnership and invest in its success, you’ll set yourself up for long-term success. And what could be better than that?

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