One of the biggest obstacles to growth is the inability or unwillingness to partner. It’s a hindrance I really get. Finding the right business partner is like finding the right life partner, a rare thing that takes us on an extensive search both internally and outwardly. More often than not a heap of mistakes are made along the way resulting in heartbreak, loss of confidence, confusion and mistrust. So why keep trying? There is only one reason, and that is that the reward is so great it is worth all the trouble and failed attempts to get there.
So let’s chat about why partnership is great, who makes the perfect partner and how to find them.
Why Partnership is Great:
Partnership is great because we all have different strengths and weaknesses.
In order to reach our full potential we must at some point stop trying to be everything to everybody and acknowledge who we are and more importantly who we aren’t. By its nature, having a strength means we are lacking in its opposite. For instance, if you are a great listener, that is a skill that many wish they had, but it may mean you don’t speak up, assert yourself, tell your story. Another example is this. You may work fast (a fantastic ability) but it may mean you sometimes miss things or slip up. The right partner fills in those gaps.
Another reason for trudging through the hard times to find a good partner is the wealth of resources they bring to the table.
Each human is like a mini world. Connecting well with just one will open the door to their circles of many. Think of all the people you know and the people they know. It goes on and on. In finding one right partner, you inherit 100+ people and all their skill sets, knowledge and connections. Think of these folks as in-laws who want to come to the table and support the newest member of their family… you!
The third and perhaps the greatest reason for choosing partnership is the way it opens your vision. I’ll share my own story as an example. I founded a non-profit called Three and a Half Acres about five years ago. Before that my experience in business was running my yoga studio Land Yoga which I am the sole owner of. At Land Yoga I always made all the decisions on my own. Nonprofits don’t work that way. There is a board of directors who are involved in all the decision making. I had to learn to work a different way. It still happens that just about every time we meet there is a board member who makes a suggestion that I have the instinct to say no to just because it’s not what was in my vision. I’ve worked alone for so many years that it’s my habit to make quick decisions and give a definitive no when a suggestion comes my way that doesn’t match my very clear and singular vision. Now I’ve learned to hold that “no” back in my mouth. Instead I think about why I chose that board member, their expertise and experience. I try to see the vision they have in their head and when I do their suggestion makes total sense. Sometimes I realize that their vision is much more inline with where the organization should be going. Then I open up my view to align with theirs. A partner can see things which are hidden to us because of our programming and limitations. When we form in partnership we get to work through that and double our vision. Sometimes we even get triple vision: ours, theirs, and the one we create together.
Who Makes the Perfect Partner:
The first thing to remember is that there is no perfect partner, only the perfect partner for YOU. Find someone who can compliment your strengths with their opposite strengths, who sees a different perspective but one you respect, who can open circles, bring resources and most importantly who you can lean on trust and communicate well with. You are going to need excellent communication skills when things get tough and they will get tough. If you’ve chosen well, you’ve chosen someone different from you. That means disagreements will happen maybe a lot of them, major ones. You’ll need a deep respect for your partner and a clear process for decision making. Sound familiar? Partnering in business is very much like partnering in love.
To identify the qualities you are seeking in a partner, do a self assessment first. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
Write your answers down so you can see them on paper and gain greater clarity.
- What is my biggest strength?
- What are some of my blind spots?
- What kind of energy would balance mine best?
- What skills am I lacking that I could use in a partner?
- What cultural awareness could I use strengthening in?
Journal extensively on this question:
- Where do I see myself going and who is the person I need in my life that will help me get there?
How I Can Find My Perfect Partner:
Finding the right person or persons to partner with for a project or to grow your business doesn’t have to be stressful.
Start by answering the questions above and putting out there that you are “in the market”.
Talk to people about your perfect match. Wherever you are, keep an open ear for the right find. Don’t go exclusive right away. Date around. Try out different partnerships gently in low risk, low commitment projects before jumping in to a long term, legally binding situation.
We’ve all had that love at first sight situation which turned out to be more lust than love and ended up blowing up in our face. That can happen with business partnerships as well. Go slowly and build trust and communication grounding your relationship for a healthy fruitful future.
Resist the urge to pick a partner because others think they are important or of a certain status.
I speak from experience when it comes to going down this road. Choosing a partner because you think they have clout or because other people seem to like them on Instagram will not end you in a happy situation. Remember that no one is as they appear online and that there is no perfect partner, only the perfect partner for you.
Finally, remember that however careful you are with your picker, mistakes in partnership happen. Be ready to exit if and when the time calls for it and always get into any partnership with a plan for how to get out of it.
Are you working on partnership in your life? Share your experience and if any of these tips helped you in the comments below or send the blog to someone else who is!