In the Trenches: Evaluating Partnerships

I suppose it’s a good thing that we’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about potential partnerships from other businesses lately. That just means that there’s greater awareness around our business and people want to be associated with it. But getting inquiries like these creates an another issue. It takes a lot of effort to figure out what’s a worthwhile partnership and what’s not.

I’m always willing to listen to any partnership idea (except for those that require sending money to a Nigerian prince), because you never know when it can turn into something huge. But I do find that most inquiries are hollow requests at best. A lot of people seem to think that a partnership with our company will get them a mention in our blog, and that’s their real goal. Ones that are that shallow immediately get sent to the trash.

That being said, there have been a few that have caught my eye. So what is it that gets me interested? I’d say there are really three things that grab me.

  1. The businesses need to be compatible. Sometimes, people propose partnerships when our businesses have tenuous connections at best. For it to really work, there needs to be a good connection that will allow us both to do better by coming together.
  2. There has to be shared risk and reward. If there is risk, it can’t fall solely on one side. This reminds me of the people who send out emails saying that if we put a huge ad of theirs on our site, then they’ll give us a tiny commission for any sales we generate. I wouldn’t even call that a partnership, but it illustrates the problem well. I don’t go for those kind of things.
  3. Lastly, the person running the other business has to be trustworthy. Now, you never know about that for sure, but you can get a good feeling for someone pretty quickly. And most of the time, the feeling I get when someone proposes something isn’t good.

Using those three guides, I find I can very quickly narrow the field of potential partners to a small handful. That’s a good thing, and it’s helped me to focus on those that might matter. In fact, we’re working on one right now that fits the bill quite nicely.

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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Hector Garcia
Hector Garcia

I would recommend setting up a clear and concise plan that lays out the potential benefit of all partners when all the hypothetical synergies are in full motion.The ultimate financial and non-financial benefits should have equal or close to equal value in proportion in investment (capital or human). Any partnership with unbalanced return on investment end up sour."Synergy" Principle in Partnerships: 1+1 = 3Do not partner up if the sum of the two activities performed under a partnership is not higher than the sum of the two activities when performed individually.

Doug Kaufman
Doug Kaufman

Good points. Another one I'd add, from personal experience, is that seeing benefits from Partnerships often takes longer than you think. There's often this sense that once the deal is done, revenue, profits, customers, fall from the sky....but the reality is that it can take a significant amount of time before you really start seeing meaningful benefits.That said, when you establish good partnerships, the long-term benefits can be incredible.


  1. [...] In the Trenches: Evaluating Partnerships – Intuit Small Business Blog We’ve been getting a fair number of emails about partnerships lately. That’s a good thing, but most of these aren’t going anywhere. Delta none [...]