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)?

  1. Our partner would bring us lots of profitable business,
  2. Our partner would put our needs above their own,
  3. Our partner would pay us for the privilege of being a partner,
  4. Our partner would be required to get their employees certified on all of our products at their expense,
  5. Our partner would get to put our logo on their website and in return we would add them to a list on ours,
  6. Our partner would be expected to market our products as part of their marketing efforts,
  7. Our partner would be required to trust us but we wouldn't trust them,
  8. We can fire our partner any time for any reason and they know it (this keeps them committed and focused on us),
  9. Any work done by our partners to add value to our products or build complementary products becomes our intellectual property,
  10. We would give our partner the work we don't want (high maintenance clients, low margin work, high risk work, etc.)

Any takers?

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.