Taking charge of business alliances


The business landscape is littered with failed alliances. Collaborating or forming partnerships with friendly commercial associates can lead to bigger profits for all concerned. But, learning how to take charge of these business partnerships will help your business maximise the potential you hope to achieve. The most effective collaborations work when partners have similar goals and values. Trust is an essential component for these arrangements to function productively.

Understand the critical skills required

There are two extremes that govern the relationship between businesses and possibly government organisations either across Australia, or with companies or governments overseas. At one extreme, all collaborators will take special care to develop frameworks and structures that will attempt to build the best balance possible between inclusiveness and effectiveness. The other extreme will have an excessive looseness, when nothing appears to happen or involves a disproportionate institutionalisation and where rules and regulations become more important than the desired outcomes. Every agreement is partly give-and-take. You should enter into a partnership with a list of the negotiating points you are not prepared to give up, and a separate list of effective solutions that you are prepared to negotiate. This will offer goodwill and demonstrate your willingness to balance the association.

Setting principles early

When both parties understand the principles to be applied, trust and common ground is easier to achieve. This will only be possible when the partners can agree a common set of objectives that are linked to your current business objectives. The businesses or non-profit organisations that are involved in the alliances must, to some extent, be mutually dependent upon each other. Common goals will help to move you forward to agreed positive results. Where the benefits favour one party more than the other jealousy and indecisiveness will usually follow.

Accountability is important

Each partner must accept and have access to clear lines of accountability. Neither can hide behind figures or delay their release because this will lead to requisite trust being broken. The risks to each partner should be spread relatively evenly, depending upon the size of the business and the common goals for success. Where either party has a potential risk that differs from the other, one business will always have a greater say over the outcome of any decisions. Naturally any business collaboration or alliance could not be achieved successfully alone; otherwise one or either party may not view the collaboration as valid over the longer term and as a positive source for future negotiations.

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