The Little Known Secret Of Successful Business Partnerships

Partnering with someone in business isn’t right for everyone. For most, however, you’ll come to a point where you will partner with someone on a project. Book publishers are partners with their authors. Movie studios are partners with their actors. At some point you’ll join forces with someone in an effort to create something awesome.

There’s something you need to know about making it work.

Communication is often labeled as the key to a successful partnership. It’s important, but success isn’t just about communication and it’s not about just playing off of each others strengths. Communication is easy. Travis Robertson is a partner of mine on several projects. We talk every Monday about those projects, where they are, challenges, ideas, etc. It’s scheduled and it’s simple.

There’s a hidden obstacle that most don’t see.

The problem with many business partnerships is that people attach themselves to satisfactions of the ego. It’s my idea, it’s my contribution, and so on. This is a deadly way of approaching a partnership. Instead, attach yourself to the end view. Keep the bigger picture in mind.

Most people have the wrong attitude and approach about cooperation. You think you should adjust yourself to your partners personality. The problem with this is that our self-respect doesn’t like us to mold and warp to someone else. When we do, we’re not happy about it.

This creates friction. That friction over time will turn to hostility and resentment. That’s not a good recipe for a successful business or partnership. Eventually, the relationship will break.

Instead, you must yield to the situation, not the person.

That’s the hidden secret to successful partnerships. To be truly effective, your partner needs to do the same. To do it any other way is setting yourself up for failure.

Dr. David Seabury once used this analogy: if rowing a boat after a shipwreck it’s the demand of the storm and navigation we need to adjust. As he put it, “We must yield to the needs of the hour.”

That’s how successful partnerships work. Yield to the situation and not to the person. If you both have this direction and approach, then you don’t have to be submissive to each other. You’ll create a relationship where both personalities can thrive successfully.

Photo by piermario

  • Travis Robertson

    Great insight, John! I think that’s one of the reasons we work so well together. It’s not that we never disagree, it’s that we are aiming for the same outcome and are willing to adjust perspectives and be persuaded by the others’ ideas. We view ourselves as being on the same side of the table working toward clearly defined goals rather than positioned across from one another trying to win in the battle of ideas.

    I liken it to a good marriage. Strong marriages are found when both parties work together to accomplish a shared vision for life. When they don’t share the same vision and they fight for their little slice of satisfaction, the marriage falls apart.

    A good business partnership, like a good relationship, is built on respect, trust and compromise.

    And, no, I won’t sleep with you.

  • John Morgan

    You can’t blame a gal for trying. 

  • Stephen Melancon

    I think you nailed it with people trying to satisfy ego. The advice of “attach yourself to the end view” is great. Prior to this post, I was in the “Communication is key” camp. I’m turning over a new leaf. Communication is very important, but partners must focus on outcomes to extend past the ego and achieve the enduring success they desire.

    Thanks for this one, the insight is timely. 

    I also agree with Travis’ comparison to relationships. Right on target. I’m glad you guys worked out the borders in your partnership. : )

  • John Morgan

    Thanks Stephen. I think it’s easy to fall into the ‘communication is key’ camp because it is so important. Glad you found this helpful and timely. 

  • Monica Nielsen

    Thanks John for inspiring words of wisdom for the mind and soul. Stay Fabulous!

  • TechPlanIT

    Awesome post John, I just had a seperation from my business partner and we both came to the realization that we had two seperate goals and end game for our business. We were able to split amicably and fair. And thank god because he is still my best friend, we have cappucchinos every Friday and go golfing together still.  It was awesome because I have had a couple of not so cool partner breakups.  Great advice for anyone thinking of a business partnership.

    Keep up the great work John.

  • John Morgan

    Glad to hear the separation went well Simon!