By Nitasha Chawla
Starting a business with a partner has many benefits such as sharing the cost of a startup, apart from the sharing of responsibilities as well as business risks. But partnerships can go sour if you do not give them ample forethought and planning. Here are some basic pointers that will help you to build a strong foundation for a successful business partnership.
Trust comes first
No relationship can work without trust. In businesses too, if partners lack trust, the partnership will not last long. Sanjiv Narain, managing director, SGS Tekniks Manufacturing Pvt Ltd, explains, “Trust and confidence between the partners is the fundamental core strength of a joint venture. Therefore, it is important to choose a partner whom you can trust, and who shares similar thoughts and values so that the chances of conflict in the future are minimal.”
Define a common vision and mission
Before starting a joint venture or business, it is important to first define the goals, interests and vision that have brought two people together as partners, and put these down in writing. This helps a great deal while initiating the business, leaving no scope for doubts and misunderstandings in the future.
Meeting expectations and needs
All those in the partnership have their own reasons for being in it. Sometimes people seek a partner for capital, sometimes for expertise, and sometimes for the right connections. Sanjiv Narain says, “In order to avoid any confusion about the motive behind the partnership, these expectations should be made clear to each partner, before the business takes off.”
Utilise strengths of each partner
When the strengths of each partner are brought out and utilised effectively, it makes a big difference in the smooth functioning of the business over the long term. Make a note of your personal strengths and ask your partner to do the same. Then sit down together and discuss how you can apply your combined strengths to the business.
Addressing limitations of partnership
The limitations in a business partnership could be in any area, like strategy, product/service development, marketing and sales, personnel and operations management, financial management and administration. Identify them as early as possible and have a plan to manage these problem areas so that they do not get out of hand and you don’t risk sinking the business.
Clearly defining job roles
Most partners decide who is going to do what, when the business is being set up. But when things do not go as planned, the blame game takes precedence, thereby souring the relationship between the partners. The best solution to this is to define responsibilities and accountability of each person in writing. By doing this, you can each be accountable to yourselves, to each other, and to the business.
Handling disappointments and disagreements
Disagreements among partners are a common aspect of business. Therefore, it is important not to let the bad feelings build up over time. Having regular dialogues, sharing your feelings and finding a way out of disagreements is the best approach. Sanjiv Narayan shares his view, “In my opinion, whenever there is a conflict between the partners, the best way to resolve the issue is by discussing the problem with each other amicably and not involving any outsiders. There should be a level of maturity so that the partners can handle conflicts on their own.”