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7 tips to building successful business partnerships

A message from our CEO and Founder, Joseph Chou

This month I have penned this article from Brisbane, where I travel regularly and where we have a local Ironfish branch office. (My thoughts to all our colleagues, investors and Brisbane residents as they face their current lockdown period).

My trip was scheduled as part of our planning and preparation in advance of a new investment opportunity we have upcoming for our investors, through our long-term partnership with Brisbane-based developer Aria.

Being in Brisbane with this purpose made me reflect on the many business partnerships I’ve had over the years and how important it is to build good relationships for any entrepreneur.

In my opinion, there are two types of business partners.

  1. Business partner who is complementary to your business and with shared values
  2. Business partner who is not in the same industry/market, but you have shared values and care about each other’s development and success

With such business partners, whether you have direct business dealings or not, you can discuss each other’s visions, discuss business topics, learn from each other, and ultimately improve and progress together.

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.

During my decades in business, I have been lucky to establish some great business partnerships; where we sincerely enjoy each other’s company and together we have managed to achieve things that may not have been possible alone. Tim Forrester, the founder of Aria Property Group, is one of them.

I still remember that Grant (Ironfish Co-Founder) first met Tim and said that he was nice and very ‘low-key’, and the products he made were excellent. Later Tim reached out to me, and we talked a lot about business, family, life and we realised that we have so many shared values.

Tim’s vision is to be the best property developer in the world, and my vision is to be the best property investment service provider in the world. We have always encouraged each other to pursue these bold visions. Both of us are loyal fans of James Collins’ book: “From Good to Great”. We firmly believe that if a company wants to achieve true excellence, it must specialise in one area and always adhere to its core values.

The life of an entrepreneur is necessarily intertwined with people and partnerships. But at the same time, it can often be busy, where time is a scarce commodity. Taking the time to build genuine, long-term partnerships can not only help your business, but also help you grow personally towards your goals.

Joseph Chou is the CEO & Founder of Ironfish. He presents regularly on topics of financial literacy, property investment and entrepreneurship.

 

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