Negotiation: How to Build a Small Business Partnership

NegotiateMany business people complain about how hard it is to find a partner who shares the same goals. Hence, building and negotiating a partnership can be quite difficult. The only thing you can do to create a solid partnership is to follow the rules and avoid hiring lawyers to take care of all your problems. Most partnerships are built on a shared vision which is very hard to achieve if the two parties have different interests.

Many business owners don’t know what to answer when they’re asked to define the concept of negotiation, since negotiations seldom follow the same course. However, most of them will tell you that negotiations are not activities that involve convincing the other party they’re wrong. When negotiating, business partners should take into account the goals of each party, in order to come up with a solution that benefits all of them.

Before starting a negotiation with your partners, you should make sure that several ground rules are established. For example, no one should yell, blame partners for a certain failure or start calling them names. The disagreement should be described carefully, in order to make everyone understand the issue that needs to be discussed. Professionals who attend a negotiation know that they should let others speak without interfering, not only because this is common sense, but also because they get the chance to analyze their partners’ words and gestures.

Business should be your main goal

A solid business relationship is often influenced by your ability to focus not only on individual goals, but also on the shared ones. Each of the partners involved is interested in making money, but a partnership also implies splitting revenues once the costs of the services provided to customers are shared. As a result, you should try to analyze the ways in which your partners benefit from your company and vice versa.

Lawyers shouldn’t be involved unless you’ve tried to talk openly about your goals and no good came out of it. Several aspects should never be overlooked, and although a lawyer may be able to offer details about shared revenue and about the consequences that your company will have to deal with if the partnership fails, their tendency to focus on details will not benefit you.

Define Responsibilities

All partnerships involve distribution obligations, which may consist either in distributing a message or in delivering products. The type of content or distribution end implied by your partnership is not important when it comes to establishing the tasks that each company involved must accomplish. Once every partner becomes aware of his tasks, everything will go by the book, as the possibility of placing the blame on the others is eliminated.

Turn to experienced counsel

Don’t sign anything before talking to an experienced lawyer, and avoid drafting complex agreements with large companies without asking for counsel. Big companies don’t make any agreements without consulting with their attorneys, so there is no reason why you should hurry. Business people who rush into signing a contract with powerful companies end up ceding a great deal of intellectual property to them without even being aware of what was happening.

Before hiring a lawyer, you should try to analyze the agreement and establish its level of difficulty. In case the agreement is a highly complex one, you will definitely have to hire an experienced lawyer. Another important issue that you shouldn’t overlook when talking to an attorney is related to “prospective provisions”. Large companies can sometimes prevent you from selling your company, which means that you need to pay a lot of attention to this issue.

The course of a negotiation depends on your skills, so you shouldn’t be surprised if your first attempt doesn’t end up too well. Only when you’ve gained enough experience you will be able to achieve all your goals. However, you should never give up, as no feeling compares to the one you have when you manage to build a strong partnership. Just like any other type of relationships, partnerships aren’t formed overnight, and once you notice that you share the same goals, nothing will stop you from achieving them together.

About William Taylor

Experienced writer William Taylor has extensive knowledge of business strategies and negotiation. His site,, offers negotiation workshops in different languages.