What Are The Top 5 Traps To Avoid In Partnerships
In keeping with my theme of 5, here are some thoughts on the top 5 traps to avoid (or potential problem areas to stay clear of) when it comes to partnerships and alliances.
- Not monitoring change signals from your partner
- Failing to negotiate when it’s necessary
- Trying to represent that you or your company can do more than you really can
- Waiting for your partner to dictate the direction that your partnership takes
- Focusing on individual success and not the partnership
Let’s explore each one a little further.
Trap No. 1: Not keeping a close eye and ear on what your trusted partner is doing in the marketplace is a recipe for getting blind-sided. I’ve been involved first hand with an important alliance that we expected to move into an acquisition deal. Our discussions turned south when our partner was acquired by a larger partner of theirs, all while they were in the midst of negotiation with us. And we were even partners with their acquirer. That was a costly lesson to learn.
Trap No. 2: Similar to trap #1, failing to recognize when to negotiate new terms and conditions, or direction, can result in unwanted results and outcomes, at least for one of the partners. When there are substantial changes in business conditions, such as when new competitors enter your field or there are a bevy of acquisitions, don’t wait to look at your partnership T’s and C’s until the contract is up for renewal. That’s usually too late.
Trap No. 3: Trying to represent that your company can take on more than it is capable of or that your every move is firmly backed by everyone in your company can easily set you up for a fall. It’s important to aspire to success but success is more frequently attained through continuous achievement and hitting milestones than with over zealousness or boasting. Don’t be enticed to offer your partner more than what you can realistically deliver, and target modestly at least initially. Under-promise and over-achieve as the expression goes.
Trap No. 4: The fourth trap is allowing the direction of the partnership to be dictated by your partner, especially if they are the larger-dominant one. While you may have to submit to some of their terms and conditions, or risk endless tie-ups and delays with their legal department that most smaller companies can ill afford, you must equally dictate the tempo, rhythm and culture of the partnership. If it sounds like a dance, it is.
Trap No. 5: While it’s obviously never wrong to focus on your success, if it’s always coming at the expense of your partners’, your partnership won’t keep its legs very long. It’s important to look at the partnership as a joint venture – each side having a stake and a gain. Look out for your partner when they sometimes can’t look at for themselves and you’ll both be successful in the long run.
As I’ve been learning the past few weeks, I’m sure there are many other traps to be aware of. I’d love to hear your favorite.