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Going into business with a new partner is an opportunity to explore fresh perspectives and exciting ideas. However, if your new business partner is still toting baggage from a previous partnership, it could derail your collaborative journey.
To keep past experiences from standing in the way of future success, business partners must learn how to manage expectations. Below, 10 Rolling Stone Culture Council members offer fellow business leaders their best advice for building trust with their new partners, especially if those partners are wary of getting burned again.
Set Up Systems to Address Any Pain Points
When a new business partner brings skepticism or baggage from a previous business endeavor they may have had hardships on, I would recommend having your new partner communicate specific pain points and concerns directly in the very beginning. Then, collectively set up systems and protocols on both ends to assure that your partner’s needs are getting met and you are free from scrutiny of any sort. – Ryan Larry, VerseBooks, Inc.
Leave the Past in the Past
You need to set clear expectations that the past is the past and what you’re both building now is what matters. When you make it clear that you’re not focused on the past and that you have full trust in your partner, it builds a bond that can take your business to the next level. – Eric Mitchell, LifeFlip Media
Pinpoint the Issue
Focus on the issue that the partner is bringing up. Jump into the skepticism or problem and understand what is driving the concern versus reinforcing your strengths. My point of view is that an objection (or skepticism) is just an unanswered question. Once moving forward, communication will be key to creating a lasting partnership and trust. – David Dorton, Ritual Beverage Company
Communicate With Integrity
Effective communication and integrity are critical to making sure that past experiences don’t impede a still-blossoming partnership. You have one chance to make a strong first impression, so it’s important not to leave any stone unturned. Ask questions. Then listen to responses. Understand where expectations were not met, and then describe in detail how you will satisfy those needs. – Chris Stubbs, GenCanna Acquisition Corp
Listen to Their Story
My recommendation is first to listen to your partner’s story. Then, explore their case deeper because they almost surely didn’t give you the complete story. Then, put your partner’s case into your own context and share with them a similar experience you may have had, always remembering to anchor your story back to their experience. Hopefully, by sharing your own experience, trust can start to be built. – Erik Rind, ImagineBC
Though past experience is relevant to future thinking, it can also obstruct creative thought. Ask this question: If you had it all your way, what world would you like to co-create together? This pushes old self-limiting behavior to the side, giving room for imagination and vision alignment. – Erik Oberholtzer, Tender Greens / cohere
Make Sure You’re on the Same Page
I think the key to any great partnership is communication. Make sure you’re on the same page every step of the way. It’s something that will get easier as you go along, and nurturing those relationships especially in the beginning stages will ensure a successful team environment. – Karina Michel Feld, Tallulah Films
Turn a New Leaf
I believe that starting on a fresh note and trusting their judgment will help build relations. Working closely with them without stifling their thinking helps to create a partnership of equality. Giving them the respect they deserve and letting go of the past is the best way to move forward. – Victoria Kennedy, Marisa Johnson
The key is being as authentic as possible when dealing with your new partner. The distrust they have is with their ex-partner, not with you; therefore, being open and honest about every intention you have will eventually help eliminate concerns about their past negative experiences. Transparency leads to trust, which will soon build confidence in the solutions you both bring to the table. – Tiffany Gaines, SS Global Entertainment
Demonstrate Transparency and Accountability
Unless you’re just starting out, most folks have had situations where expectations weren’t met or things didn’t work out the way they expected. Being transparent about things that haven’t worked out for you in the past as well can often be a great way to build rapport with that partner and demonstrate a willingness to be transparent and accountable in your work going forward. – Chris Murray, FoxNRTH Inc.