How to build a successful business partnership:
- A foundation of aligned core values
Choosing the right business partner is integral to a successful relationship. Shared business interests are of course important, but above this, what is more important is whether you and your business partners share the same core values. Personally, I will never violate the core values I believe in for any commercial interests.
Our core values at Ironfish are to place our customers at the centre of everything we do, and to always pursue a win-win for all parties. This value underpins all our business decisions, even at the expense of commercial opportunity; no matter how attractive an opportunity a developer or joint-venture partner provides to us, if we do not agree with their core values, I would never pursue the opportunity, let alone build a long-term business partnership with them. When we choose developers or joint-venture partners we need to know that they genuinely care about our investors.
- Quality is more important than quantity
Many people pursue networking or socialising simply to meet more people, thinking that they can expand their business contacts this way. But the number of people you know is not very meaningful to me. What I value is quality connections with like-minded people whose company I enjoy, and they enjoy mine; this is the foundation of quality business partnerships.
- Treat others equally and with mutual respect
Position yourself correctly in terms of your own value. Instead of treating a potential business partner based on the size of their company or success, put yourself on an equal footing – being neither overly humble or overbearing. This will lead to a mutually respectful business partnership.
- Invest your time and energy in the relationship
Relationships aren’t built in a day; they take time and consideration to cultivate and develop. This means taking time out of your busy schedule and investing time to maintain this relationship: touch base or meet regularly, spend meaningful time with each other, and support each other on the road to pursuing your business vision.
- Give, don’t ask
Relationships are a two-way street. It’s tempting to build business partnerships with the mentality of ‘what can I get out of this’. Instead think about ‘what value can I bring to the other party’.
If there is an opportunity that the other party may benefit from, introduce it to them; if you see something that may be detrimental to their business, find a way to tactfully let them know or share your advice.
- Always say good things about each other – sincerely
Saying ‘good things’ doesn’t mean saying nice things that you don’t really believe. It’s about sincerely appreciating and endorsing your business partner. And if there’s a problem, then find a constructive way of communicating this to them directly.
- Have a long-term mentality
I don’t think of business partnerships as a one-off or one-time relationship. Instead, I see them as a long-term travel companion. With a long-term mentality, you will be more likely to look for solutions or ways to overcome any challenges or obstacles. You will be able to learn and make progress together instead of blaming each other or having to face the problem alone.