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Three Steps to a Successful Business Partnership

Today, we dive into a crucial topic for anyone looking to thrive in the business world: how to form a successful partnership. Partnerships can be a game-changer, allowing you to scale faster and achieve success that might be impossible to reach alone. Let’s break it down into three actionable steps.

Finding the Yin to Your Yang

Determine if You Are a Visionary or Integrator Type

The first step in forming a successful partnership is understanding yourself. Are you a visionary or an integrator? Visionaries are great with ideas and innovation, while integrators focus on executing those ideas efficiently.

Take Personality and Work Style Assessments

Consider taking personality or work style assessments like the DISC test. These can give you a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

Reflect on Past Projects and Roles

Think back to your previous roles and projects. Do you excel at brainstorming and coming up with plans, but struggle to execute them long-term? Or are you great at turning ideas into reality but lack the creative spark?

Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

By examining your own strengths and weaknesses, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for in a partner. If you’re a visionary, you’ll need an integrator. If you’re an integrator, a visionary will complement you.

Look for a Partner that Complements Your Weaknesses

Different Communication Styles

It’s essential to find someone who communicates differently from you. This ensures that you cover all bases in decision-making.

Different Decision-Making Approach

Consider the different decision-making centers: head (logic), heart (emotion), and gut (intuition). If you’re a head person, find a partner who is more of a heart or gut decision-maker.

Tangible Factors to Consider

Money, Time, or Knowledge

Identify if you have money, time, or knowledge to contribute to the partnership. Your partner should bring what you lack. For example, if you have money but lack time, find someone who has plenty of time and knowledge but needs funding.

Open and Consistent Communication

Hold Weekly “Same Page” Meetings

A partnership thrives on good communication. Schedule an hour and a half each week for a “same page” meeting.

Dedicated Time to Discuss

Use this time to talk about business updates, feelings, vision, and any concerns.

Use “I” Statements

Express yourself using “I” statements. For instance, “I feel like we’re not meeting our goals,” rather than, “You’re not doing your job.”

Create a Safe Space for Open Dialogue

Listen Without Getting Defensive

It’s crucial to listen actively and not become defensive. Remember, your partner is sharing their perspective, which is valid.

Respond With “I Hear You”

If you need time to process, simply say, “I hear you, let me think about it.”

Consistency Builds Trust

Difficult at First, But Gets Easier

This process might be tough initially, but it will get easier with time and build trust between you and your partner.

Consider Outside Mediation or Counseling

If communication breaks down, it’s wise to consider business counseling or mediation.

Get Everything in Writing

Formalize Partnership Terms in a Written Agreement

A successful partnership requires clear, documented agreements.

Equity Splits

Decide how profits will be shared. This should reflect each partner’s contribution.

Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly outline what each partner is responsible for to avoid future misunderstandings.


Set clear timeframes for any goals or trial periods to measure success.

Exit Strategy

A good agreement includes an exit strategy. If things don’t work out, you’ll know how to part ways amicably.

Provides Clarity and Prevents Misunderstandings

Shows Commitment From Both Parties

Having everything in writing shows that both parties are committed to the partnership.

Should Not Be Viewed as Lack of Trust

Serious Partners Understand the Need

A serious businessperson will understand that written agreements are about clarity, not distrust.

Refer to Agreement During Meetings

Use your document as a reference point during your weekly meetings.

Additional Considerations

  • Read books on partnerships like Traction and Rocket Fuel for deeper insights.
  • Be honest with yourself about what you bring to the table.
  • Avoid assuming 50/50 splits unless it’s genuinely equitable.
  • Seek advice if you’re struggling with open communication.
  • Use quantifiable methods to assess your partner’s skills during the hiring process.

Key Takeaways

A successful partnership isn’t built overnight. It takes time, introspection, and clear communication. By finding the right partner who complements your weaknesses, maintaining open and consistent communication, and getting everything in writing, you’ll be well on your way to creating a powerhouse team that can achieve incredible things.

Don’t forget to take advantage of resources like books and assessments to help you understand yourself and your potential partner better. And always keep the lines of communication open—it’s the glue that will hold your partnership together through thick and thin.

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