16 Steps To Building Successful Partnerships

You and your business partner are all set to conquer the world. You have your financial backing in place, you know where you’re heading and how you plan on getting there.

But how will your partnership work day-to-day? Will you tread on each other’s toes or argue about every business decision that needs to be made?

Having someone on your side, through the bad and the good times is invaluable. A business partner can help share the load, share your disappointment and celebrate your successes.

But how easy is it to build a successful partnership and how can you avoid the pitfalls that trap so many would-be partners?

For a partnership to be effectively productive, partnership values must be stated and observed practically. The values shouldn’t be a ‘just for show’ write up placed somewhere on the wall. It should be observed by every party in the partnership. 

Here, I will share some tips on making the business partnership the stuff of dreams and not nightmares.

16 Steps To Building Successful Partnerships

1. Both Partners Communicate Effectively

This ensures that you’re operating in the dark.

Get together weekly to talk about what’s going on. Be upfront with any problems that might be causing obstructions and celebrate your successes together. Trust your partner to have your best interests at heart; after all, you share a common goal.

To make your partnership work out well, you and your partner need to develop a regular communication method. How often do you need to communicate? Communication is the key to a successful partnership.

2. Put it into writing

There’s a lot of benefit to writing. First of all, it makes it easier to remember and reference what has been said. An agreement/contract makes it more potent when it is written.

Another merit is that it will be easy for both partners and other parties involved to run with the vision. It also helps to remove doubts and keep track of the partnership progress via reports.

As you proceed with your partnership, every agreement, goal, aim, and other roles should be put into writing. You could require a professional writer to help you coin your words effectively.

3. Identify the components of the partnership

16 Steps To Building Successful Partnerships

Identify all defining factors coming into the partnership. You need to know what exactly is coming into the partnership and what influence it would have. You must know your partner’s role as well as yours.

The partnership will have a goal that is a combination of your individual goals. Ensure your goals are the same, similar, complementary or compatible for alignment? Will your short term goals help you to achieve your partnership long term goal? You and your partner must agree on a goal to make your partnership work.

Also, try to identify your objectives, strengths, market shares, and other factors. Once you identify these things, you will be able to evaluate how these components will work together for your partnership.

4. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses

One of the things you can bring into the partnership is actually knowing and acknowledging your strengths and weakness. I know you know what your business strengths are.

You also know what your weaknesses are. You know what resources and skills you do not have in your business. Knowing all these will ensure you bring all your strengths together and find solutions to your weaknesses.

Your partnership should be one that completes you. It should magnify strengths and eliminates weaknesses on both sides.

5. Outline your roles

16 Steps To Building Successful Partnerships

One of the things I have noticed in some partnerships is the overlapping of roles. Allow me to present it to you this way. You have two full entities which have their individual functions before they come together.

The chances are that there are roles and duties that will be similar in both businesses. Some of these roles can be optimized in different ways to ensure efficiency and not repetitions.

You have to set the roles clearly. As the partnership starts, new roles will arise as some old ones will be removed.  Each role must be outlined with detailed duties to avoid conflicts and overlapping efforts.


6. Select one proactive member for each partner

Before your partnership begins, you and your partner should select a representative. Should you or your partner decide not to represent the partnership, you will need a face to take that place.

The representative on either side will handle all matters pertaining to their team. This will give you, your partner and all members in the partnership the go-to person. It also ensures proper communication and a good business relationship.

7. Reconcile immediately

Disagreements are bound to happen. If you and your partner agree about the same thing all the time without expressing the difference in your perspectives, something might go wrong. Don’t be afraid to iron things out and reconcile quickly. As many times you disagree, find the neutral ground. It will strengthen the partnership.

It will also nurture respect in the partnership since agreement after a disagreement usually builds trust. Whenever you are unhappy with anything, speak up immediately. You might be surprised about how easily the problem will be solved. Keeping it to yourself is bad for you, your health and your business.

It will eat you up first and by the time you eventually express it, you might unconsciously blow it out of proportion. Be reminded to tackle the act, not the actor. When you speak, express your grievances constructively and if possible, have a solution handy.

8. Meet physically

16 Steps To Building Successful Partnerships

As much as this might look unnecessary, meeting physically is the best way to send the right message. In fact, the best way to be properly understood is through physical meetings. If physically meeting with your partner is impossible or impractical, then try virtual meetings through video calls.

It will benefit you the most if you can consistently reach out. The only time I recommend emails and text messages is when all these other means are unavailable.

You will agree with me that some of the messages you send often have tones attached that may be misinterpreted. To avoid this, meeting physically or using a means that will accurately represent your gesture, intention and tone will be more appropriate.

9. Create an atmosphere of utmost support

A partnership is meant to make each partner achieve more that they could individually. An atmosphere of support is the best you can create to achieve this. People subconsciously offer as much help as they think they will get back from people.

Exploit this by helping your partners not because you expect reciprocation alone but because you take it as a duty. Offer more help than you expect from your partner. Support gets the job done. Be supportive! Having each other’s back depicts commitment.

10. Both Partners Don’t Bottle Things Up

16 Steps To Building Successful Partnerships

If you are worried about the business partnership or what your partner does which you don’t quite agree with, it’s important not to bottle your feelings up.

When you bottle things up, it gets worse in the end when you finally let it out. So, thrash it out as it comes.

It’s also important to approach the matter professionally. Take the emotion and your feelings out of the conversation and instead talk it through from a business perspective.

Save your feelings for when you get home and can talk to mature friends or family about it.

When the matter is resolved, move on. Put it behind you and don’t hold a grudge. The future of your business relies on getting this partnership right, so put the work in and make it happen.

11. Protect your reputation

This might look simple but it is not as easy as it looks. Your reputation is your brand and everything your business stands for. Do not get into partnerships with businesses that will bring down your quality.

You do not partner with a business of far low reputation unless you have a way of bringing them to your standard. Let your aim be to partner with business with a better reputation than your business and ensure you do not drag that business too.

Instead, work to ensure their reputation is improved as yours improve as well.

12. Be accountable to each other

16 Steps To Building Successful Partnerships

To start with, a lot of partners are easily carried away by the better side of the partnerships that they neglect or forget the need to determine accountability. To build a successful partnership, you have to take responsibility. Being responsible for one’s actions is a tough thing to do.

But the good news is that it gets easier as you do it more often. Take responsibility for your actions and inactions. This will make the partnership grow and reach your business goals faster.

Another impact is that you will be respected not only by your partner but by the entire parties in the partnership. Both of you should be accountable both for the wins and the fails of your partnership.

Accountability must be done regularly so that both parties will be up to speed with the state of things. This will let you know whether your partnership is working or not.

You will also be able to strategize on how to do better. This simplicity will help you to avoid and solve problems as they come

13. Be fully committed

The cause of about 90% of failed partnerships is lack of commitment. If one of the partners fails to commit fully to the partnership, the other partner will notice and also withdraw.

This will lead to the failure of the partnership. A successful partnership requires an “all in” move. In fact, all or none should be the motto. Bring your full and true commitment to the table of partnership.

This means you will commit your resources fully to the success of your partnership. The success of a partner means the success of the other partner.

14. Have a reward scheme

16 Steps To Building Successful Partnerships

Have you thought about your reward scheme when you meet and surpass certain targets? Well, you and your partner should have a clear cut plan on how to reward yourselves. If this is not decided from the onset, it might lead to continuous disagreements or failure of the partnership.

There is a need for a functioning reward scheme that will recognize a job well done. As it is with major tasks completed, there should also be a consequence for failing to meet an agreement like a deadline. Ensure your scheme is agreed by both parties and free of bias when effecting it.

15. Give the same instructions

It might be that you decide to outsource some of your workloads, either because you don’t have the resources to do it properly or because you don’t have enough know-how.

While it’s a good idea to interview the potential outside help together, so they have a fuller picture of your business, it’s important to then step back. Give your partner space. This might look unconventional. As much as I would tell you to be communicative and supportive, you also have to respect the privacy and autonomy of your partner. Do not forget that the other party is an entity on his own. You will work together of course, but give room do you will not be choking him.

When it comes to managing your consultant or an experienced ad agency, split that up between you. Don’t make the relationship confusing by issuing separate instructions to the consultant.

Make sure there is one point of communication and respect your partner’s distance.

16. Both Partners Divide and Conquer

16 Steps To Building Successful Partnerships

You have your side of the business, they have theirs. You might be in charge of creating your product or service and delivering it, while they are in charge of the marketing side of things. This approach has saved many a business relationship because it does involve total trust.

The best way to establish that trust is to stick to a plan that you both agree on. This plan will set out in detail the goals and objectives you have and how you will reach them.

While you both know what you are working towards. The day-to-day running of that side of things is down to you both individually.


A lot of things trigger the need for partnerships. As a business, you might need a business partner to make your work easier and more efficient. You may also need a partner to occupy a process. I know you can mention more than a few other reasons for your partnership. One thing these factors have in common is the need for an extra hand to complement you.

Getting two parties to work together can be a herculean task for a lot of reasons. There might be differences in aims, goals, missions, duties and organizational policies. Some of the reasons might look trivial but if they are not sorted, it might reduce the efficiency of the partnership.

There you go with the steps to building a successful partnership. I do hope this helps your partnership achieve good success.

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Post Author: Opeyemi Sowade

Sowade Opeyemi is a systematic, cooperative and collaborative thinker, oriented to follow procedures. He is patient and listens to others carefully, genuinely interested in their ideas, opinions and information.

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