By: Larry Fish, President
It occurred to me immediately when I first started GreenSearch® 20 years ago, the preponderance of partnerships that exist in the green industry compared to others. I then started doing some research and found a statistic that suggested that a business begun by partners had greater potential for long-term survivability than one started by a single owner –— but, it takes a lot of work.
Partnerships in business require many of the characteristics found in long, enduring friendships. Partnership or friendship, one common theme permeates both relationships: values count. To provide emphasis toward that last point, just ask anyone in your circle of network contacts if that is true or not. My guess is that the answer almost always is yes.
Successful partnerships, like friendships, endure because of a common belief in core, shared values. These values never dilute the individual strengths and creativity each partner brings to the enterprise, but when the chips are down and tough decisions must be made based upon issues of character and what is the right thing to do, they become the glue that holds the business and the partnership together. These values may vary in both number and description, but those who share them know what they are and when they should be applied without delay, debate, or long-winded discussions.
Here are some values worth considering:
Sooner or later, partnerships peel back the veneer that covers each partner’s inventory of strengths and weaknesses. Circumstances conspire and partners are forced to face the fact that one is clearly better than the other in certain aspects of the business. Many times this is a difficult admission to make and the potential for resentment and jealousy is great. Enduring partnerships avoid this potential pitfall and, instead, take quiet pride in the other’s strengths as well as a sense of relief that this talent belongs to their team rather than to that of a competitor. It takes a humble person to do this well.
Partnerships, like friendships, have their ups and downs. But, loyalty never has a bad day. It is one ingredient that, like a laser beam, is straight and true. It is not adversely affected by its surroundings. As you look back in history, men and women have willingly given up much because of an unyielding sense of loyalty to a cause or another person. This principle holds steady and true in business.
Ability To Give And Take Counsel
No one has all the answers all the time. Many times, that which separates success from failure is good advice delivered in a timely fashion. The ability to take and give counsel requires trust, selflessness, and a willingness to take a chance on offending someone while offering a worthwhile and objective perspective. Just as important is the willingness to ask for counsel and take it seriously when it is given.
This is a bedrock issue for friendships and must be one for partnerships as well. Throughout history and the chronicles of many successful landscape businesses, there was the inevitable moment in each friendship in which there was nothing else to do but be honest and speak the truth. The truth hurt in some situations and it was not until years later that the friends recognized the courage it took to be honest when it would have been easier to say nothing. Although it may appear to do otherwise, honesty strengthens any business relationship.
Clearly, these values are but a few that could be applied successfully to business partnerships, but they do give us much to work with and consider. The time we spend together in work is much greater than the time we spend in almost any other endeavor. Every little bit helps.
Give your business partnerships and friendships some thought and attention daily.
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