Strategy

‘Just like a marriage’: How to keep business partnerships intact and fruitful

Sonia Majkic /

business growth

Sonia and Tamara are the co-founders and managing directors at 3 Phase Marketing. Source: Supplied.

A business partnership is like a marriage. The children are happy when the parents are happy. When the parents are fulfilled, the children benefit. When the relationship is rocky, everybody suffers. It’s no different in business.

Just like a marriage or any significant partnership, it takes a lot more than chemistry to make a business partnership work. Plus, if business partners don’t have a fulfilling, uplifting, supportive relationship, then the trickle-down effect impacts the entire business and ultimately everyone suffers. As the saying goes, the fish rots from the head down.

So, how do you create and maintain a healthy business partnership? Through structured communication, disciplined goal setting and strategic reset periods, you create an environment for both partners to share their vision and aspirations. Plus, you need compliance and legal representation in place to make sure everything is not only by the book but each partner can have peace of mind when it comes to their business.

Shared goals and vision

Once you collectively establish your long-term business goals, they then need to be broken down into annual and quarterly goals. From the quarterly goals, an action list should be created and divided among the partners. This way, everyone involved knows exactly what the other is working on each week.

The reason why it’s so important to break big goals down into an action list is because success is only measured by taking small actions that accumulate over time. You never arrive at big destinations or big goals without moving the ball forward every day. So while you’re in the business and doing the implementation and dealing with everyday issues that surface, your responsibility is to make sure you’re pushing that ball forward. The bigger the goals, the bigger the action list will be.

In doing this, each partner might be running around and doing a million things but the others know the items on the action lists will get done. Each partner needs to know, while daily tasks are getting done, there is action being carried out towards the business’ bigger vision. That’s how to ensure the vision remains the same. It also makes each partner accountable and ensures in 12 months, you’ll be much closer to where you want to be than where you are today.

Structured communication

Now, it’s all about structured communication. Weekly meet-ups need to be in place where annual goals are touched on but the meat of the discussion needs to be on the quarterly goals and the weekly action list. This will be the barometer to ensure you’re on track.

It’s all about working backwards from your big goals and structuring regular communicative touch points between partners to stay on the same track. When the partnership flourishes, there is an extremely powerful ripple effect. It’s like an electrical current. So when you’re igniting and working on the same framework and on the same frequency, that current starts to disperse within the business as well.

Strategic resets

As well as weekly structured communication, it’s good to have reset periods in place to fine tune any strategies in progress. This is where you do a collective deep dive into what’s working, what’s not and where expectations across the board lie.

This lays everything out on the table for both partners and opens up space to move forward in a more productive way while ensuring that each partner knows exactly what is expected of them.  

Compliance and legal representation 

Even if you’re not at the point in your business where you can afford a full-time HR manager, it’s still essential you adopt strategies to ensure fairness, governance and safety in the workplace. 

Entrepreneurs may be known risk takers, but when it comes to legal representation and compliance, contracts and signed agreements are all too important. They help in navigating sticky situations, support staff members as well as owners, give sound advice, and are there to lean on for conflict resolution and performance issues. 

Having these measures in place enforces peace of mind for business partners knowing their company is safely theirs, while holding each partner accountable to play by the books.

When business partners thrive and prosper, it’s also the family unit, the company and every employee within it, that benefits.

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Sonia Majkic

Sonia is the co-founder and managing director of digital marketing agency 3 Phase Marketing. Sonia has more than 15 years' experience working in media, sales and marketing.