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Building a Strong Foundation For Your Relationships

Consider these four tips for getting your partnership off to a good start and lasting success.

Partnerships are as powerful as multiplication and addition. When you find the right partner—whether in your business efforts or a life relationship—you can accomplish more than you would going it alone.

As wonderful as partnerships can be, however, they can equally be as detrimental. After being involved in more than 100 companies in my career, I’ve had my fair share of amazing partnerships as well as partnerships that have been so bad they’ve nearly drained my soul and made me quit.

Here are four tips for forging successful partnerships:

Communicate

Make sure to have the hard conversations before they are needed. When you begin a partnership, it is easy to look at all the upside and ignore the potential dangers the partnership can bring.

It is important for each partner to make a list of the ways the partnership can go wrong and then come together to discuss them. After years of partnerships with dozens of people, I can say that the thing that “will never happen” often does. It is not because either party is intentionally trying to hurt the other; rather, it is just differing opinions and unmet expectations that lead to it.

Get Written Agreements

Put all the contingencies in a contract. Once you have a list of things that could potentially go wrong, it is important to address them contractually. Whether it is in your operating agreement, bylaws, purchase agreement, or a simple contract, it is important to have these agreements in writing and signed by the parties involved.

Have a Clear Exit Plan

Although starting a partnership can be exhilarating, we often never talk about the end strategy. Early on, you must answer these two questions:

  • If everything goes the way we plan, how do we see the partnership ending?
  • If everything goes wrong, how do we see the partnership ending?
  • If you can answer these in harmony, then you are well on your way to visualizing a clear end strategy, which will be helpful for when that time comes. You must know how long you think the partnership will last and the benefits it brings to each party.

Honesty Is Everything

Most people are not willing to be brutally honest, which leads to breakdowns in communication. People hide their feelings, allowing concerns and emotions to build up. They hold back important information because they may be ashamed or hesitate to bring up hard topics.

Start by giving the partnership the permission to be completely honest. Then start practicing it yourself first. After coaching many businesses, I find this to be the most difficult thing to deal with. I would highly recommend that you and any potential partners read reading Kerry Patterson’s book “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.” Reading the book and adhering to the code of conduct it presents will give you a great advantage over others who struggle with having honest conversations.

There are so many benefits to a partnership. They are evident in the legendary partnerships we’ve seen between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, and Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, just to name a few.

These partnerships and others demonstrate that partnerships can often multiply the opportunity as each person sees, understands, and executes their role. If they are set up properly, partnerships can create massive success. But, start the partnership correctly. Slow down long enough to create the correct structure, and both parties will benefit down the road!


Eddie Wilson is an entrepreneur and visionary by nature. His widespread interests have led to successful ventures across the globe, from operating nonprofits and owning an ad agency that worked with well-known household brands, to investing in hundreds of real estate projects and building a nationally syndicated radio show. Today, he guides AAPL and Think Realty with his marketing, funding, and real estate investing knowledge to ensure their establishment as the premier organizations in their sectors.

Wilson graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in broadcast sales and marketing. He also studied marketing at Georgia Tech and business management at Emory University.


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