Creating a strategic alliance through joint ventures or partnerships, can be a rewarding undertaking. Alliances can be formed for various reasons including, breaking into new markets, reducing costs, enhancing product offerings & services, access to technology or manufacturing processes, diversity, and increased capital. The preceding list is in no way exhaustive, but I hope it outlines just a few reasons to consider entering a Business to Business relationship. As a christian business owner there are also spiritual implication associated with creating a strategic alliance, that have far reaching ramifications. Today I want to share a few tips to navigating the world of business partnerships, that will give you confidence in finding out if an alliance is right for your business.
Two are better than One
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
When it comes to labor, two heads are definitely better than one. For obvious reasons such as having more hands on deck, and an ability to divide responsibility. Verse 10 however, gives us a less obvious reason for partnerships. If one were to fall, there is a friend to help them back to their feet, for the purpose of keeping on. In a strategic partnership, encouraging one another to accomplish the goal at hand is definitely a plus.
Selecting the correct partner
Measure with the same scales
In my many business ventures, I have experienced many partners, and I can tell you that a good business relationship makes the world of difference. The foundational piece to creating a strong and successful alliance is of course picking the right partner. If you are planning on remaining more than a company, rule #1 to selecting a strategic partner is finding a person or organization that aligns themselves with your business’ code of conduct. (Which I pray is Biblical, or perhaps you are on the wrong site.) 2 Corinthians 6:14. “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?” If you ignore this advice you may find yourself in a position that could cause you to compromise what you believe.
Also, remember the Bible speaks of a good reputation being better than material wealth. Proverbs 22:1 . So choose a partner wisely.
Once you have decided on a business relationship it is equally as important to document the relationship. “…Write the vision and make it plain… that he may run that reads it”. Habakkuk 2:2. Getting it in writing builds the lines of communication in such a way that both parties, know what is expected of them in the relationship. In writing the vision be sure that you discuss the roles each side will play, goals and expectations that need to be met, boundaries (Make it very clear, what is being shared, and what’s off limits), and methods of operation. Before you move forward get total buy in, so that he may run that reads it. If you don’t have a written agreement, then you don’t have an agreement at all.
Work it out
Discuss how decisions will be made, and conflict resolution. Unity doesn’t mean that you will agree on all points, but it does mean that we decide lay aside being right or wrong for the greater vision. God commands a blessing in unity. Psalm 133:1-3
Relationships don’t always work out. Even though two parties may have the same goal in mind, disagreements in the execution sometimes cause them to part ways. (Acts 15:36-41) Barnabas and Paul couldn’t agree on personnel, and ended up parting ways after a strong start in ministry together.
Prepare for the worst and hope and pray for the best. In the agreement, be sure to allow for an escape clause. The escape clause should include scenarios that would cause the alliance to no longer be beneficial, for both parties. Remember there is no need to sour relationships over business endeavors. Be sure to leave on good terms. We are the Body of Christ, and called to a higher standard of living.
Strategic partnerships are just another part of doing business. I pray that you found this post helpful in thinking of ways to utilize others in the Body of Christ, who may have gifts and talents that you don’t possess, to mutually build business for one another. Please feel free to leave comments on how you have leveraged alliances with fellow believers.