Why is it that, for many people, we value partnerships and friendship in Life far more than we do in Business?
In our personal lives we are grateful to – and for – our significant other. For our kids, our relatives (OK most of the time…), and our friends.
In business, partnerships are often seen as being somehow second-best. Pick up most business journals today and you’re more likely to read about some entrepreneur who made it big, in spite of adversity, and did it on their own (even if that’s BS – no-one achieves success on their own). There doesn’t seem to be so many success stories written about partners.
Yet the business world is stuffed full of hugely successful companies run by more than one person. Where would Bill Hewlett have been without Dave Packard? Or Larry Page without Sergey Brin (and, later, Eric Schmidt) ? Even Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak (and not forgetting Ronald Wayne) in the early days.
Every Business Has Partners. But That’s Not Enough
Today, every business has partners. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a mega multinational, every organization has support partners that help make things just that touch easier. Maybe it’s to help with corporate accounting, or cleaning the office. Perhaps it’s supplying the raw materials to make the product, or the sales channel to sell it. Maybe it’s a devoted brand advocate who “likes” a Facebook update, shares a Tweet, or comments on a LinkedIn article.
I get the feeling that the (albeit increasingly outdated) classic “Western” capitalist business philosophy of Greed Is Good and treading all over the competition to get what you want, is falling out of favor. I’d like to think it’s being replaced by a more socially-responsible, caring, and appreciative way of doing business. Sure, there’s always going to be bosses that take advantage of subordinates, suppliers, and even customers. But with the advent of social media, and a social-first corporate responsibility position, I’d like to think individuals have more choice. Moreover, that people are less likely to ‘settle’ with doing business with people they don’t like.
A big client screws you over on price, then takes 90 days to pay? Dump them as a client. You get passed over for a promotion for the fifth time in a row? Hand in your notice.
Instead of focusing on transactions, devote your efforts to partnerships. Go above and beyond for clients that help you out by paying on time. Leave a glowing LinkedIn recommendation (without having to be asked) for your supplier contact that’s moving on to pastures new.
Friends We Do Business With
Even before I started KEXINO, wherever I’ve worked I’ve always considered my customers as partners. Even today I have ex-clients that call me up now and again just to shoot the breeze, even though we may have not physically seen each other for 20+ years. I’ve had clients flat-out refuse to accept I stay at a hotel when visiting their city, and demand I stay at their home. Not only that, but they know I’d do the same for them if the roles were reversed. It’s doesn’t even need to be said.
Sure, I consider every single one of our clients as being partners, but I’d go even further than that. To me, the word “partnership” implies a two-way relationship. It’s as much about you looking out for me, as it is me looking out for you. In fact, the word “partner” doesn’t go far enough. The word I’m looking for is “friend.”
I’m proud of the fact that we don’t have customers, clients – or even partners. Instead, we have friends that we do business with. And that’s the way it should be.