Strategic business partnerships give entrepreneurs the benefits of shared financial risks, emotional support, diverse competencies and different perspectives.
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Few people have all the skills and knowledge needed to run a business successfully. Another person brings a different set of skills, knowledge and experience.
Thandie Balfour and Zanele Duma founded their organisational development consultancy in 2013. Having met in 2007, they worked as two independent consultants prior to teaming up. With a shared professional interest in industrial psychology and human resources, as well as a number of projects in common, the stage was set for them to form a partnership. Over time, the value of a strategic partnership has proved itself again and again.
In common with many partnership success stories, the two like-minded entrepreneurs – who had a solid working relationship in place before they put their heads together – challenge each other’s thinking, influence each other to modify or change their assumptions, and provoke each other to think differently and innovate whenever possible.
“Being able to look at problems from many angles can help to achieve better and often more creative solutions because we have more than one perspective,” says Balfour.
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Common ground, diverse competencies
“Because we have separate but complementary skills in our industry, we are able to provide advice and assistance that comes from different perspectives,” says Balfour. “One of the biggest benefits of a strategic partnership is the ability to tap into your business partner’s knowledge and expertise. Given the level of competition in the market, being on the same team has certainly worked to our advantage.”
With their focus on organisational development interventions, whether it be analysis of processes or employee development, it’s not surprising that the roles and contribution of Balfour and Duma are synergistic. Their responsibilities are clearly defined and documented.
Sharing the emotional load
The life of an entrepreneur can be lonely, Balfour says.
“It is helpful to beable to share the burden. We give each other mutual support and companionship. When things get stressful, it’s less frightening when you have a partner than it is running a business alone. No matter what happens, we are in it together.”
When you are a solo operator, there is a limit to how much you can take on, particularly in the services sector. “Our partnership gave us increased capacity to deliver and enabled us to take on bigger clients,” says Balfour. “The more integrated our partnership became, the greater the opportunity we have had to offer more sophisticated and tailor-made solutions for clients.
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- When choosing a business partner, make sure they have a healthy attitude about collaboration, and that they share your level of commitment
- Find a partner whose skills and talents complement yours, and who has the same business objectives.