7 Ways to Make a Business Partnership Work

7 Ways to Make a Business Partnership Work

Business partnerships, like marriage, may sound good.

You have someone to share the financial risk and emotional burden of running a company.

But like marriage, they can be challenging.

Here are seven ways to make a partnership work:

1. Figure out what you’re good at
Three big areas of a construction company must be dialed in:

  • Get Work
  • Build Work
  • Get Paid

It’s unlikely that you excel in all three, otherwise you wouldn’t be in a partnership.

Be honest about each partner’s strengths and weaknesses.

Delegate oversite and accountability for Get Work, Build Work, Get Paid to ONE partner.

If you don’t do this it’s easy for one of the areas to get neglected, and that will cause you grief.

2. Daily check-ins
Checking in every day helps communication flow.

Chat for 5 minutes in person or by phone.

Don’t try to cover a lot of ground.

Ask “what are you working on?”

Get a feel for where your partner(s) is at.

Make a note of any areas of concern.

3. Weekly tactical meeting:
Schedule one hour a week to cover –

Get Work:
Ask – What have we done THIS WEEK to increase the likelihood of landing new work with new or existing clients? 

Build Work:
Current Projects –

Are we on schedule and budget?

Pressing client/sub/supplier issues?

Get Paid:
Ask – Who owes us money?

Who do we owe money to?

4. Monthly strategic meetings
Set aside half a day.

Gather all partners.

Take off your day-to-day operations hat.

Put on your business owner hat.

Ask about Get Work, Build Work, Get Paid:

  1. What’s working?
  2. What’s not working?
  3. What should we start doing?
  4. What should we stop doing?
  5. What should we do less of?
  6. What should we do more of?

Have honest conversations about:

  1. Prospective projects in the sales pipeline
  2. How current projects are proceeding
  3. People: Who’s happy? Who’s sad? Who’s underperforming? Who’s excelling? Who’s stepping up?
  4. The financial state of the company


5. Be Humble
If you want your partners to be held accountable for their area of responsibility, go first. Admit your mistakes, be willing for others to point out where you fall short, and commit to change and improvement.

6. Be Courageous
It’s better to prevent rather than fight fires. So be Smokey Bear, not Fireman Fred.

If your partner(s) are failing in their duties, say something about it.

7. Play the long game
Like every marriage, every company has its ups and downs.

Your relationship with your partner(s) may not be ideal, and that’s why you have to keep working at it.

If you got into the partnership for the right reasons (compatible skills, shared values) then you can afford to play the long game.

Don’t let a bad month or year drive you to break up the partnership.

Be humble, courageous, and patient.

Here’s a summary of the 7 Ways to Make a Partnership Work:

  1. Figure out what you’re good at
  2. Daily check-ins
  3. Weekly tactical meetings
  4. Monthly strategic meetings
  5. Be humble
  6. Be courageous
  7. Play the long game

What about you? What’s your experience with or observations of successful partnerships.