People tell me there are over 5,000 online dating sites, but I couldn't find one that focused on matchmaking business-to-business (B2B) relationships. Yet, every business expert tells me that finding good business partners is just as tricky as a good marriage, without the sex.
Business partnerships come in all shapes and sizes, from finding a single partner to help you run your startup, to signing a strategic agreement with another large company for development, marketing, distribution, or sales. As with personal relationships, unbalanced deals don't work, since the dominating entity finds it hard to adapt and appreciate the value of a partner.
Everyone agrees that successful business partnerships can provide cash for growth, reduce costs, provide new geographic markets, or bring whole new customer sets to the table. Bad ones will suck the energy out of your company, and leave you wanting more. The thrill of the chase is always the fun part, but making it work is a lot harder.
Just like personal relationships, if you are contemplating a business partnership, the first consideration should be the characteristics of the key people involved. In addition, your company engines have to synchronize, which requires changes beyond the honeymoon period. Here are some of the key elements of both:
Even with the best of efforts, in my experience a high percentage of partnerships don't work in the long run, because the underlying entities have different long-term objectives. This means prior planning for an easy dissolution. Document early the partner agreement detailing what each person is responsible for, who makes what decisions, and how disagreements will be resolved.
In summary, I did find a few sites, like PartnerUp and jobmingle, which are a step in the right direction, but they still seem focused on letting you do most the work (like Facebook) to find the ideal partner. How about finding the best fit for you through something like eHarmony's "scientific approach to matching" with 29 dimensions of compatibility?
I wonder how many dimensions of compatibility there are to a good business partnership? I know it's rarely love at first sight. There is still time for you to be the first eHarmony.com of the B2B crowd!
Follow Marty Zwilling on Twitter: www.twitter.com/StartupPro