10 Commandments for Creating Powerful Collaborations

Updated on 26 January 2017

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How powerful, really, is the power of collaboration? For entrepreneurs working together with the right partner can mean the difference between success and failure.

Just recently, with the hope of helping his streaming service Tidal gain market share in a sector dominated by streaming giants Spotify, Apple and Amazon, Jay Z, entrepreneur and rapper announced that American telecommunications holding company, Sprint Corp. has acquired 33% of the service.

The partnership between Tidal and Sprint will see Sprint, the fourth largest mobile network operator in the US, give Tidal access to its roughly 45 million retail customers, free marketing and arsenal to take on the incumbents.

The lesson on the effective collaboration for businesses, even on a smaller scale, affirms that the right kind of partnership can open up new markets and business opportunities.

To find out what else goes into the perfect partnership we turn to some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and business experts.

Here are 10 quotes and tips on how you can find the right business partner for your startup.

COMMANDMENT 1 – Know thyself first
“Be painfully honest and work to identify your own strengths and values, so you can find partners that counterbalance your strong suits and advance your highest priorities.”

Alastair Mitchell, president and co-founder of Huddle, says in an article on Fortune.

COMMANDMENT 2 – Define the ideal partner
“The most important step is deciding exactly what skills and experience you need to best complement yours. Start with your own judgment, but don’t hesitate to ask for advice from a seasoned investor. Ideal partners here should not include your best friend or a family member.”

Martin Zwilling Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small business owners, in a Business Insider article.

COMMANDMENT 3 – Find someone with a complementary set of skills and traits
“Successful partners will possess different (complementary) skills and traits. The broader the partners’ range of skills, the clearer the division of their labor (and power) can be. The marketing gal from the technical guy are readily distinguished. Other necessary variables are often not so apparent. Michael Gerber’s classic book “The E-Myth” explains that there are three key roles in every business, Entrepreneur-the creative visionary; Manager-the administrator who brings planning, order and predictability; and Technician-the craftsperson. Partnerships have a distinct advantage in that two (or more) invested people are available to perform these three functions.”

Elinor Robin, mediator and mediation trainer specializing in workplace and family conflict management, states in a Forbes article.

COMMANDMENT 4 – Pick a partner who is hungry to succeed
“You want a partner who is as passionate about the business as you are, so seek out individuals who share your commitment and your drive. Look for someone who is involved with their craft outside of regular business hours. If you are looking for a good developer, attend local meetups within the coding community. [This matters] because if they are spending their own free time to attend these meetups, they are passionate about what they do, and it will reflect in their work.”

Shannon Conheady, CEO and co-founder of RepairQuote, is quoted in a BPlans article.

COMMANDMENT 5 – Find someone who shares the ultimate goal
“Alignment on the end-game is crucial. What is the ultimate goal of the company? Is it to create a lifestyle business or to generate revenue and sell on? The beginning of those trails can often look very similar to entrepreneurs, but they can diverge quickly if the destinations are not aligned. If you can constructively discuss your core values and outcome from the outset while figuring how they will play out in a variety of situations, it could make all the difference!”

Mike Stratta, EO Chicago, Executive Vice President, LimeGreen, shares in an Inc. article.

COMMANDMENT 6 – Emotional intelligence is key
“Emotional intelligence, is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. He adds that general success in life is built upon the ability to effectively manage one’s emotions. In the rough and tumble environment of a startup, EI is especially crucial. It’s true that emotionally erratic people can make successful business leaders, but they usually don’t do it with a co-founder in tow”.

Neil Patel co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics, says in an article for Forbes.

COMMANDMENT 7 – Do your due diligence
“You can do a lot [by] just Googling. Most people and organizations leave a digital trail. Dive into the legal databases. Ask for references, but also research any clients they have worked with or been associated with, and contact them. You should vet a partner carefully with all sources available, such as LinkedIn, company websites and former partners.”

Jon Weston, CEO of LumiWave and Sherry Fox, co-founder and chairman of LumiWave, say in a Business News Daily interview.

COMMANDMENT 8 – Be clear about whether you’re looking for a partner, employee or consultant
“Don’t partner with someone just because you can’t afford to hire them. It is better to hire them as a consultant than to give away a part of your company or to find out later that he/she is not a good partner for you.”

Pamela Wasley, CEO at Cerius Executives, writes in an Entrepreneur.com post.

COMMANDMENT 9 – Investigate financial stability
“Any time there is equity involved, treat it as though you are getting ‘married.’ Definitely find out if potential partners are risk-tolerant, but also if they are financially able to embark on the endeavor. As with a spouse, it’s important to discuss finances up front to avoid any surprises later. I do some angel investing in new businesses and in my experience, whatever the business plan says in terms of money and time needed to get to break even, the reality is it will take twice the money and double the time.”

RJ Lewis, New Jersey, president and CEO, e-Healthcare Solutions, says in an Inc. article.

COMMANDMENT 10 – Opt for performance-based equity
“The mistake I see many business partners make is the old 50/50. In reality, it doesn’t usually play out that way, and things fall apart. Instead, start out a 10/10 split, with the remaining 80 staying in the company. Then, every quarter, based upon performance metrics that you choose (such as sales, hours worked, goals achieved, etc.), split up another 10 percent of the company. Within two years, all the equity will be distributed, and it will be a fair division. No one can fake performance for two solid years—and, if they can, they can fake it for the rest of the company’s existence.”

Mike Michalowicz, author, Profit First, advises in an American Express blog post.

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