Business Partners

C o n n e x I o n s    C o l u m n 

Based on experience in his therapy practice, Riaan Swiegelaar gives us a clear understanding of relationship dynamics in our romantic, family & professional connections. This is his regular relationship feature… 


Business Partnerships


Why does it seem like business partnerships and alliances never deliver the value they’re supposed to? Why is it that some partnerships succeed while others crash and burn? Some key elements that define lasting business partnerships are:


Not surprisingly, trust is the foundation for any successful partnership or any relationship as a matter of fact. But what exactly does that mean?


Trust implies that both parties participate in the relationship with both ‘gives’ and ‘gets”. The attitude of giving a full commitment to the partnership will usually result in getting the same commitment in return. It’s that very commitment that has kept some people working together for more than 30 years.


Mutual respect


If you look at dynamic businesses where there might be two or more partners, you’ll notice that each person or key player has complementary skill sets that allow the partners to respect each other’s unique strengths. Each partner needs to acknowledge that no matter who did what or how much, nothing could have been accomplished without the work and contribution of the other.


Shared vision and values

That being said, it’s important that partners aren’t too different when it comes to goals. What cripples many partnerships to a point of failure are when, after achieving success, the partners have the interest and opportunity to take on new projects.


Honest and open communication

Taking on a partner is like taking on a spouse. That means you need to have honest and open communication – always, no matter how difficult the topic. This includes talking about money, mistakes and different management styles. It’s extremely important that you let people know where you stand – what motivates you, how you operate, what your expectations are, et cetera. Declaring yourself also includes telling the truth.  Often partnerships fail when one partner does a little deal on the side or wants to break away and the second party finds out about it.



Now; 6 tips on how to screw it up:


The beauty of these tips is that even by firmly sticking to only one of them, you’ll guarantee the partnership will stumble, or even fall over.


1. Set unrealistic and vague objectives for the partnership. Setting the objectives for the partnership should be a quick process focused only on your own requirements. This way, no matter how good it performs it will never measure up against your objectives.


2. Please, don’t waste time evaluating different potential partners. Just go with the first one. Even better choose your best friend or from within your family. Making mistakes is the best way to learn, right?


3. Allocate resources for the partnership as you go (no need to plan). Developing a partnership involves multiple stages including partner selection, negotiation, creation, maintenance/ monitoring and development. That proverb failing to plan is planning to fail must be wrong!


4. Within your business, share information on a strictly ‘need-to-know’ basis, and keep the partnership process a secret from internal groups and functions. To achieve this you will need to keep communications ambiguous to breed suspicion and resentment to fuel personal agendas.


5. Never trust your partner(s) nor allow trust to develop. When have you heard that a successful partnership is about trust? To maximise the failure rate, make sure you don’t meet promises or deliver reliably and never allow your partner to feel comfortable when doing business with you.  To maximise your power and dominance, have your hands on all the ropes. At all times, you will have the loudest voice.


6. Avoid adapting and changing. If you do, it might help the partnership to succeed! Never mind if your partner has more efficient methods that might save you time and money, you know your business! Please always discourage discussion with your partner(s) about what could go wrong, and how you’ll deal with it.


On the other hand, if you are diligently practicing any of the tips above, you will join over 50% of alliances and partnerships in failure or delivering lower than expected results. Is that what you really want?


As you work to make your partnership thrive, find a win-win solution that is fair to both parties, and establish clear metrics for success.  Anyone who’s been in a partnership can tell you that they aren’t easy, but they can also be extremely rewarding, and perhaps even essential to the success of your venture.


In the next issue: the ABC of break-ups…


Riaan Swiegelaar is a Relationship Coach, Transformational Therapist and a Intuitive Healer. He runs a practice at the Far Hills Hotel. He can be contacted on 082 844 6588, or


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