Nearly all problems, and their solutions, arise from one issue: communication.
Communication is the key to a successful partnership, and problems usually arise where it is lacking. It can be more expensive to ignore a disgruntled partner than to deal with the issues – the world of business is relatively small and news travels fast.
It can also be more cost effective to quickly and politely conclude a relationship with a disappointed or inappropriate partner and to move to a relationship with a partner which does benefit from the real opportunities you can provide.
- making contact only at the negotiation and conclusion of the partnership and failing to keep the partner informed and engaged during the life of the partnership.
- neglecting to keep abreast of developments for the business, not knowing about key personnel changes and other factors which will have an impact on the business (such as takeovers, mergers, good or bad trading results).
- overstating the benefits you can deliver eg don’t exaggerate the number of subscribers, members or participants that you have.
- not being open about existing partners, beware of negotiating deals with new partners that encroach or have the potential to encroach on the turf of existing partners.
- approaching a business that is a direct competitor of an existing partner eg if your partner is a retail bank, do not approach other retail banks; if in doubt, ask your partner.
- trying to change plans at short notice. Your partners are important, and you want to be responsive to requests. However, you need to keep an eye on the financial costs of changes, and the damage that changes may have on the quality of your event or service.
- inappropriate handling of brand changes: eg where an event has had a long association with a particular business, a badly-handled change in business partner could impact on audience perceptions or recognition of the event.
- keeping a partnership even though it is not working well. Avoid the convenient ’a partner in the hand is worth two in the bush‘ attitude. Ultimately, the costs of a poor partnership will be greater than the costs of securing a new, effective partnership
- not giving yourself enough lead time and/or not being aware of business budgeting timelines.
"Connect with donors - a guide for the arts to build relationships with donors", Australia Business Arts Foundation, 2012