Team sports prepare children for the corporate business model. Girls, however, often play closely with one or two friends. What a great preparation for the business association! So it’s fitting, as women continue to start businesses in record numbers, that many are finding partnership to be a comfortable format. In fact, the trade association works for women who come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, including those tired of hitting the corporate glass ceiling, stay-at-home moms, and women who want to turn their passions and social connections in business ideas.
Membership provides a wide variety of benefits, including a sense of connection and someone to cover for when you go on vacation. On the other hand, many partnerships end in crisis and conflict. To avoid partnership failure, your partnership must possess the following seven components of positive partnership.
Shared values. Partners need a sense of shared standards regarding what is desirable, undesirable, good, and bad. These values will guide the actions, judgments and choices of the partners. Values, which often carry considerable emotion, can range from valuing family, prosperity, ambition, a work ethic, or political persuasion. In addition to helping partners make consistent decisions, shared values serve to bind them together.
Different (complementary) skills and traits. Successful partners will possess different (complementary) skills and traits. The broader the partners’ range of skills, the clearer the division of their labor (and power) can be. It can be easy to distinguish the marketing person from the technical person in a business, but other necessary variables are often not so easy to see. Michael Gerber’s classic book “The E-Myth” explains that a business owner must play three roles: Entrepreneur: the creative visionary; Manager, the administrator who provides planning, order and predictability; and Technician – the craftsman. Partnerships have a clear advantage in that two or more people involved are available to perform the three necessary roles.
Sense of Fairness. Equity occurs when the rewards of a relationship are proportional to what each side perceives as their contribution. Strangers and casual acquaintances maintain equity by keeping track of the profits they trade. However, in long-term and more committed relationships it is not healthy to keep score. Instead, a sense of fairness must be established. A perception of inequity (I give more than I receive) takes a tremendous toll on a society.
Growing up together. From the moment we are born to the day we die, we are in the process of growth and change. Members and their associations are continually experiencing this process of change. However, many times we are not aware of the changes we are experiencing. And sometimes change is seen as a threat to the status quo. Successful partners embrace change and growth, knowing that this attitude benefits both their individual and shared professional identity.
Proactive conflict management strategies. Competing and avoiding are not effective conflict management strategies for partnership. Instead, successful partners will use proactive and strategic approaches to conflict management, such as adaptation, compromise, and collaboration to resolve their differences.
Shared vision. Partners need a shared vision or plan for the future. The vision is what determines and expresses where an organization wants to go and how it intends to get there. A shared vision allows partners to focus on their goals and the methods they will use to achieve them. When partners have different views, they become discouraged, overwhelmed and disconnected. To effectively create and benefit from a shared vision, four tasks are necessary: creating the initial vision, translating that vision into the necessary physical actions, articulating and selling the vision to others, and staying true to the essence of the vision. when reality changes plans.
An exit strategy. It has been said that a graceful exit is proof of a successful enterprise. Without an exit strategy, partners may be forced to make crucial decisions at a time when they were less sensible. An exit strategy is a shared sense of when and how an alliance will end and should be included as an end point in a business plan. However, while planning ahead can be a critical aspect of owning a business, it’s also one of the most neglected. Exits are easy to avoid when the issue is not pressing and raising the issue may spoil the deal or suggest a lack of trust. Four questions must be addressed when considering an exit plan: what events could trigger the end of the partnership; how the business will be valued in the end; what future ownership options are acceptable; and what post-alliance links and restrictions, such as non-compete clauses, should be included.
When you enter into a partnership that is strong on these seven components, you have the potential to create synergy and reap some amazing benefits. True synergy arises when two (or more) people work together to create results that could not have been achieved independently. In a synergistic association 2+2>4 and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.