Recently Sunwapta Solutions has been actively partnering with a number of companies to extend our product and service offering in complementary ways.
What would an ideal partnership look like (top ten list)?
- Our partner would bring us lots of profitable business,
- Our partner would put our needs above their own,
- Our partner would pay us for the privilege of being a partner,
- Our partner would be required to get their employees certified on all of our products at their expense,
- Our partner would get to put our logo on their website and in return we would add them to a list on ours,
- Our partner would be expected to market our products as part of their marketing efforts,
- Our partner would be required to trust us but we wouldn't trust them,
- We can fire our partner any time for any reason and they know it (this keeps them committed and focused on us),
- Any work done by our partners to add value to our products or build complementary products becomes our intellectual property,
- We would give our partner the work we don't want (high maintenance clients, low margin work, high risk work, etc.)
The above listing is obviously a spoof. But the funny thing is; many partner programs have some of the above attributes either intentionally or by accident.
If you want your partnerships to fail, be really greedy and don't build trust. Almost everyone I talk to has been burned by bad partnerships or untrustworthy work or personal relationships.
This builds a mentality of not trusting anyone and going at everything alone. Or entering partnerships looking for reasons they should fail instead of succeed (hey, I tried but I got hosed again). Is the risk inherent in partnering really more than hiring employees (stealing your ideas, intellectual property, customers, etc.?). Seth made another good point in Begrudging:
"If you're going to do something, do it. Go all in. Doing it half in makes no sense at all to me."
If you want your partnerships to succeed:
- Build trust and respect in everything you do,
- Share the rewards, maybe not in every single activity, but cumulatively,
- Give back to the partnership and always genuinely look for win-win,
- Communicate often, openly and honestly. Nothing bad should be a surprise to the other party,
- It takes two to tango, take turns leading and following,
- Define the rules of engagement (expectations) and how things will end if necessary but don't get carried away with rules, simple is good.
- Go all in.
Partnering with another company or individual has a lot of upside potential if both parties are genuine and committed to making it work.