Tips for forming ethical business partnerships

Throughout your leadership journey, know that you are not alone. From co-owners to funding partners to designers to manufacturers, you may form many different partnerships while establishing and growing your business. It is important to make sure that you are forming partnerships with individuals and groups who are ethical and transparent and share your essential values.

Establishing partnerships and connections with unethical and untrustworthy individuals could result in disagreements and inconsistent goals that can affect your long-term stability and your overall impact. Here are some tips to make sure you form mutually beneficial partnerships on your path to success.

Ask questions

When considering potential partnerships, get to know who you want to work with and establish a connection. Ask questions and understand their goals, and find out what they hope to accomplish in the short term and long term through the course of your relationships. Make sure that you are recognizing and addressing unconscious biases when you are getting to know your potential partners. This stage of relationship-building should show how you and your partner’s key differences and unique skills each bring something effective to the table to help one another succeed.

Identify shared values

When asking questions and getting to know your potential partners, work to identify your shared values. Your values are important to how you and your business function. For example, if you find teamwork, timeliness, and community to be extremely important values to you and your business, and your potential partners do not prioritize any of those values, you could run into a disagreement about getting a project finished within the established time frame. This could have adverse effects on your team and your impact on the community. When you and your partner have different strengths but shared values, you can utilize your differences to work toward shared goals that align with both partners’ important values.

Get references

Do these individuals have good reputations? It is good practice to ensure that your future partners have a history of positive relationships and work in the past. You should consider references on behavior, performance, or work ethics. Just as you would compile references and work samples for future employees, you can consider doing your research into customer reviews, past partnerships, and business policies. These potential partners should be doing the same to establish that you are a positive potential partner to aid one another’s goals. Also, make sure to follow your intuition. If something feels wrong about your partner’s character or beliefs, it may require you to reassess your relationship.

Establish trust

In addition to regular and effective communication, it may be helpful to establish trust by creating more formal agreements with your partners. Here you can identify your shared values, clearly define your roles and responsibilities, establish a code of conduct, and be transparent about your vision as well as how you will follow through with that vision. When you are both honest and transparent about what you expect out of the partnership, you will have a more successful outcome.

While you may feel like you can get everything done for your business by yourself, know that collaboration is going to help you in the long term. Collaborating with the right people will make you and your business stronger.

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