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Navigating the new casual business etiquette and the 7 things to look for in a new relationship

When browsing online, I came across an advertisement that seems to echo the desire of many business owners.

They want more from life.

Sometimes reading what other people want, can make for compelling reading.

We all want something.

In this article

The online dating ad read something like this:

Looking for a potential partner:
Broad-minded partner wanted for regular action with a view to a possible long-term arrangement.

You: financially stable, strong and outgoing, willing to try new things, know what you want, love to laugh, be optimistic, thoughtful, ambitious and perceptive, but flexible.

Me: new to this kind of business, been hurt before, need someone to take it slow, can’t live without oxygen, friends, family and partners

Wow, sounds interesting, I thought…

So I asked myself the inevitable question: ‘Should I swipe left (and move onto the next opportunity) or swipe right (and strike up a conversation)?’

The Opportunity

Reading through online dating profiles can at times be a little scary.

Thinking about getting a new business partner can be downright terrifying!

When you want it all

People go into formal business partnerships for as many reasons as there are aspirations, but it’s fair to say it’s usually about one of the four motivations listed below.

  • multiplying a business’s ability to deliver a compelling offer
  • increasing capital and technical skills to the business
  • gaining access to new markets and relationships
  • generating greater economies of scale

Searching for Mr or Ms Right and taking it slow

In the perfect world, everyone brings a broad range of social and business abilities to the table and naturally gets on with everyone.

  • In the perfect world, everyone is heading in the same direction, propelled by a similar ambition, guided by the same purpose and driven by the same work ethic.
  • But like all relationships, it’s rather hard to unwind and walk away unscathed if it turns out not quite what you’d hoped for.

Putting aside the need for a written partnership agreement at this early stage, let’s talk about the business case for taking it slow.

Let’s try a casual date first

Preparing for your first casual joint venture or formal business partnership will depend a lot on your personal level of growth, your insights, and what you want to achieve.

You must be able to state why the proposed partnership is a good deal for all parties concerned and what they each bring to and get from the relationship. Slowing things down first will help you (call it due diligence) see who you might be, figuratively speaking ‘getting into bed with’.

Everyone has a past; don’t let it damage your future

It’s a good idea to get 3 standard background checks completed to start your open conversations;

Understand some regulated professions may also require levels of professional conduct that could prevent you from choosing a particular business partner so it may be prudent to check with the relevant professional organisation to know what you're professional responsibilities are.

And in today's post-pandemic world, have a conversation about your attitude towards health, vaccinations and liabilities to provide a safe co-working environment.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget if the potential new match has previously claimed upon their professional indemnity insurance, it will usually affect your own insurance premiums upon your annual renewal.

Finally discuss the effect of extended sickness, disability (and even an unexpected death), and how it could affect your future business plans together.

7 Tips to slow good things down

Before you jump between the pages of a casual joint venture or even a more formal partnership agreement, here are 7 ways to see what you’re exposed to.

  1. Complete a smaller commercial joint venture (JV) together first. Make an opportunity to see their commercial skills in practice and how they function under pressure.
  2. Watch their ability to self-regulate. Are they able to manage their own stress without taking it out on those around them?
  3. Watch how they relate in a social environment. What you’re looking for is a consistency of behaviour. Who wants to be in a business relationship with Dr Jekyll or Mrs Hyde.
  4. Mind the age gap. I’m not saying it can’t work, but you both need to have the maturity to work with people at different stages of life and work expectations.
  5. Ask them what motivates them, frustrates them and what helps them focus on business? If they can’t talk about these emotions, consider the swipe left.
  6. Talk about money and expectations. Who needs what and when? Look for candid and easy conversations about the potential financial side of the relationship.
  7. Talk about safe business practices and insurance. Working with multiple business partners increases your talent and commercial reach. It also increases your statistical risk of something unexpected happening. If sickness, disability (or even death) were to happen, how long could they continue to draw an income from the business?

The last word

When browsing for a casual joint venture or whether you're looking for some more stable commitment to a formal business relationship, many people risk being unlucky in business by just focusing on the money and forgetting the 7 steps above.

When checking out a new business partner, know when to swipe left (and move on to the next opportunity) and when to swipe right and strike up an interesting conversation.

Drew Browne Modern Small Business thought-provocateur
Enjoyed what you've read and want to work together?
You can contact me here or connect with me through LinkedIn.
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