Negotiation. Partnership. Bartering. Often, it’s the “people management” part of business that causes the most anxiety and challenges. Last week, I was honored to moderate a CRAVESeattle panel for women entrepreneurs titled The Art of The Deal. We tackled these issues and I wanted to share some key takeaways with you.
Forging Effective Partnerships
When you’re partnering on a project or marketing activity, there are various landmines to avoid. First and foremost, clear communication is key. Discuss up front the roles and responsibilities of each party. Outline who is responsible for what.
In my view, there are 3 areas you need to ensure you map out clearly before getting into bed with each other:
- Marketing: Who is promoting what to whom? Are we using our email lists, placing ads, posting on social media? Map out how you’re splitting this so there’s no, “I thought you were the one doing that” conversations after the fact. And clearly discuss how you split all costs and expenses so there is no ill will. Attached to this, how will you follow up and split leads after the event or activity? Make sure you are both aligned or your prospects will be left confused and caught in the middle.
- Operations: Who’s responsible for booking the room, ordering the food or writing the copy? Who is developing the sales page and processing payments? Who’s project managing? Work out all the details before hand, list the tasks and assign an owner.
- Financials: Money issues can turn a partnership sour faster than anything. Clearly establish your joint budget and how you will split both expenses and incoming revenue. Sometimes 50/50 may not make sense if you’re leveraging one person’s larger mailing list or brand recognition. Have the conversation upfront – trust me, it will be even more painful and awkward later if you don’t.
To Pay or Barter?
Collaboration can take many forms and two ways of bootstrapping your growing business can be either to pay for services rendered or barter. How do you decide? It depends on your budget and what you need. Only barter for things your business really needs. Otherwise, it’s not a good deal and you end up giving away products or services that could be earning you money for something you never needed anyway. Finally, be sure your expectations are clear. When you’re not paying someone for something, that means you fall to the bottom of their priority list. Are you okay with that? Is your timing flexible? If not, it may pay to pay instead.
When you’re on the other end of the barter, you also need to ensure you can commit to giving away your time. Don’t do it if you are crazy busy and it will just leave a bad taste in your mouth. You owe it to the other person to be honest and to only take on work to which you can give your very best – and give it in a way that doesn’t make you bitter or resentful.
Overall, be selective about your chosen collaborators and partners. Make sure you’re both committed to delivering on time and ensure that aligning with this business is not going to impact your brand in a negative way.