Leave a Legacy
Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project. He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.
Partnerships & Alliances
Dec 19, 2009
When you consider growth and development there is always a question of how best to accomplish the task. Considering a partnership or any type of strategic alliance requires more research than most people invest.
The most important aspect of a business alliance (shared ownership, strategic alliance or dedicated supplier) is a common and clearly defined objective. What do you want to accomplish, what does the other party[ies] want, and what is primary objective for working together?
The following are a few suggested guidelines you may review prior to forming a partnership, committing to a single supplier or formalizing a strategic alliance:
1. Clearly define your objective.
What do you want to accomplish, and how will this business arrangement facilitate your goals? What are your personal, professional, business, family, self-satisfaction, and financial goals? Consider making a list and describing your objectives in writing.
2. Know your counterpart(s) personally.
You should learn as much as possible in terms of organizational history, ethics, financial position, credit history, and goals of each responsible party. Just as you date prior to marriage, getting to know the true character of the other business entity is time well invested.
3. Know the organizational culture.
Learn the structural integrity, and the management personalities of the people with whom you will affiliate. Any organization is nothing more than a compilation of its individual members. It’s a composition of the integrity of its citizens, directed by a consensus of the leadership. You should know the managing partners, and carefully examine the opportunities you may have to influence decisions and effect change.
4. Pay attention to your own intuition.
As a business owner, you’ve developed a valuable level of intuitive reasoning capability. Through years of experience, repeated trial and error, and an increasing reservoir of cultural capital, you’ve acquired some essential abilities to reason through a variety of issues. Don’t ignore your gut reactions when making important decisions.
5. Weigh all of your options.
A business alliance is only one of the many development opportunities. Some gurus claim that the best action is to do the opposite of what may be natural or expected. Focus on your objective.
Most of all, heed your own warning signals, trust your gut. You are successful because you do most things right.
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