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The Secret To Successful Business Partnerships

The Secret To Successful Business Partnerships

By: Ross Paterson

A high percentage of the SMB market is made up of partnerships. Our Advanced Leadership Forum was working through a tough partner situation last year when one of the members stated, “The fastest ship to sink is a partnership.”

My experience with partnerships ranges through foreign military work, for-profit businesses, and non-profit organizations on the edges of the world. Partnerships are challenging, frequently painful, but, when done well, quite powerful. Today’s modern business environment, and the demands for continuous acceleration, amplify the fact that we can’t be strong everywhere. We believe that the demand for nimble and effective partnering will only go up in the next decade.

So, whether you are a family business with multiple generations in ownership positions, a new start up, or a twenty-year-old partnership struggling for a  breakthrough, here are three things that will significantly increase your chances of success.

  1. Shared Values and Vision: Vision is easier to define than values/culture. Most of the conflict problems we see have more to do with value clashes than vision disconnect.
  2. Respect and Trust: The strongest indicator of Respect and Trust is a team with the ability to have healthy organizational conflict. Fight, defend, find agreement, plan and move forward. Partnerships can easily be derailed, especially in a crisis or down turn in performance.
  3. Clarity about Roles and Results:  As we dig in with team of struggling partners, we are shocked when we discover that no one can answer the simple question, “Who does what?


Do you have a messy partnership that feels like it is going down? We can help.

Don’t just take our word for it.

Next week we’ll talk about transitions, evolution, and changing seasons in business partnerships.