Collaborative business relationships
My business career recently entered its fifth decade. My first business raising and selling sweet corn in the Philadelphia suburbs started at age 17. Recently at my 57th birthday celebration I was privileged to introduce the associates of the latest new business venture in crab harvesting. Over this span of 40 years, I’ve enjoyed opportunities to work with hundreds of other small businesses in a range of industries from professionals to nonprofits, insurance, employee benefits, agriculture, aquaculture and construction. We can’t help but to notice that some of those relationships are more successful and productive while others fail. Over time, I’ve recognized that the types of relationships that work well for me fall into the successful group I call “collaborative” and the unsuccessful relationships that I call “hope”. My entire practice is focused on developing more of these collaborative relationships where the result is more than a common buy/sell business transaction. My business relationships are based on achieving measurable and verifiable results. Here are some examples:
Collaborative Relationships that have been successful in the past and would be welcome in the future
- Sales Representative Relationships: You offer a product or service and I market it on a consignment basis or contingent fee basis as long as the arrangement is publicly disclosed.
- Business Development: We form a joint venture (that may or may not develop into a formal partnership later) based on splitting the result of our collective work.
- Collaborative Marketing: We author an article or book together or jointly produce a public demonstration. I am a guest on your event, TV or radio show or appear in your print or online publication and we both market that product to our audience. Conversely, you might attend an event that I host as a quest speaker or presenter.
- Barter: I give some product or service to you in exchange for you giving some product or service to me.
‘Hope’ Relationships that have not been successful in the past and would not be welcome in the future
- Purchases: I pay you to provide a product, coaching, marketing, advertising, and we hope that it works. If it does not work as intended then you’ve already been paid and can walk away from the relationship with no consequences.
- Referrals: I refer a person or business client to you and I hope that it works out, I hope that the client is happy with the referral and I hope that we might do other business in the future.
- Regulated Industries: In these situations our business relationship is governed by regulations that control your industry (like financial services) may control what I can say about you, your products and your industry. There is risk that my uncensored expression can get us into regulatory trouble.
I welcome opportunities to discuss ideas that fall into the first group but please don’t waste my time with proposals that fall into the second group.