Is It REALLY A Partnership?

Are you in strong partnerships with the people you do business with or is it just one more overused and abused business term like “synergy” or “paradigm shift”.

This is what sba.gov says a business partnership is, “A partnership is a single business where two or more people share ownership. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business, including money, property, labor or skill. In return, each partner shares in the profits and losses of the business.” Does this sound like what you have? My litmus test for this comes down to one thing…do the people sitting across the table from me care about my success? Do their actions represent that? You can apply that to a business or personal relationship and when you do, you might be surprised at what you find.


Expecting the other party to be a good partner is a must. If you are on the sell side and a buyer is all about striking the best deal, at the lowest cost, with the best possible service, with no regard to the impact on you, I would say you are in a bad partnership. Have HUGE expectations from the people you buy from but be realistic. I have sold to people that are absolute HAMMERS and don’t care at all about the party they are negotiating with. They drive hard and DEMAND things if you are going to be allowed to sell them product. You might get what you want, but that approach will bite you in the butt at some point down the road. I  spent 9 years of my career negotiating with the largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club. If anyone carries a big stick its those guys and believe me I got hit with it a few times, but for the most part the buyers I dealt had a better approach.

Just because you have a big stick doesn’t mean you wield it. When I was at Serta we killed ourselves taking care of Sam’s Club. We committed a lot of resources to the account, returned calls as soon as they came in, flew there at a moments notice, and made absolutely sure that everyone servicing them on the operations side of the business was held to the highest level of service. We earned their respect and they treated us as real partners because of it. Just because you have leverage doesn’t always mean that you use it. Because of the way they approached us personally and professionally we made it our mission to take great care of them. Doing that because you have to versus doing that because you want to are very different things. Do you fight harder for the people you like? Do you do more for the customers that treat you well and are fair? Think of this as winning a battle vs. winning a war. Being a good partner is as important as expecting it from the other guy.

Of course you run in to those idiots that don’t get it and think the only way to succeed is by crushing the person they are dealing with. Take a minute to consider those guys in business. Where are they today? How is their company doing? There are always going to be exceptions to this but I am betting money, the most successful people are the ones that give AND take. Be one of those and you will win the war.





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