Getting The Most Out Of Strategic Partnerships And The Accounting Business Expo
We’ve all heard the talk. The accounting industry is disappearing, so accounting firms need to do more consultancy work and form strategic partnerships with similar firms to secure a place in the market. It’s not as simple as that though. Not all accountants want to become consultants and not all firms need to form partnerships. It’s a bit like being pressured to get married because ‘everyone else is doing it’.
And, just like marriages, many business partnerships end in a divorce of sorts because they didn’t really know the other partner well enough or because one partner expected the other to conform to their standards and behaviours.
In an attempt to avoid this, many potential business partners devise a ‘pre-nuptial agreement’, but too often these only specify what needs to happen without giving much thought to how it should all happen. Yet, knowing how a relationship will function on a day-to-day basis plays a huge part in its success.
Jonathan Hughes and Jeff Weiss spent years analysing why some partnerships work and others don’t. In their HBR Article, Simple Rules for Making Alliances Work they outline the 5 principles that alliance partners need to follow in order to build a successful and ongoing business relationship.
While their HBR article goes into much more detail, we’ll give you a brief summary of these principles.
1. Working relationships
While having a formal business plan is important, what is equally as important is knowing in advance how to deal with conflicts, errors, different business processes, and any other situations where assumptions might be dangerous and costly.
2. The means to an end
As most partnerships are formed with long-term goals, results may not always be evident in the first few months or years. Only looking at short-term reports can make stakeholders think that things aren’t going well. Instead, performance indicators should also reflect progress milestones, even if the increments are quite small.
3. Embracing differences
Trying to merge two different business styles and cultures can leave both sides feeling as though they’ve made all the sacrifices and may become a cause of underlying resentment. Instead, it can be more beneficial to acknowledge the differences and look for ways that they can complement each other. Think of some of the most unlikely music collaborations that have just worked, such as Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli, Queen and David Bowie, and the latest odd couple, Sting and Shaggy.
Pairings like these show diversity at its best.
4. Good behaviour
Even when strategic arrangements have been set up well for collaboration, provisions need to be made to ensure that everyone within both organisations thinks and acts as though they are on one big team and learns to ‘play nicely’ together and increase their combined value. Otherwise, problems can lead accusations of blame rather than active problem-solving.
5. Look internally
If all the departments and other internal stakeholders within each organisation are not functioning well together, how are they going to manage to collaborate with a separate organisation? It would be just like the factional in-fighting in politics. They’d be so busy fighting each other that they’d have no hope of understanding how the other side functions, let alone how to work effectively with them.
To learn more about how to establish a successful strategic partnership, be sure to attend the Profitable Partners panel discussion: How to successfully set up strategic relationships at the 2018 Accountants Business Expo.
Our very own, David Boyar, CEO of Sequel CFO, will be a panel member. Joining Dave will be:
· Lielette Calleja, Director of All That Counts
· John Knight, Managing Director of businessDEPOT, and
· Adrian Patty, Director of Advice and Innovation at Spark Partners.
Between them, they have a wealth of experience in this area and they’ll be sharing countless tips to help guide you toward your own successful business alliance.
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While you are at the ABE, look out for Dave and his partner in crime, Paul Meissner, as they’ll be recording live From The Trenches episodes over the 2 days.
Paul & David are passionate CA's who care deeply about the accounting industry. Paul quit his accounting day job seven years ago and now owns and runs the Melbourne-based firm, 5ways Group Chartered Accountants, and his online Freedom Accounting System firm which allows him to travel and work from anywhere.
For the last 4 years, David has worked as a Virtual CFO. At the start of 2016 he co-founded the Virtual CFO Association and in December 2016 his company, Sequel VCFO began franchising to mobilise the experienced work force of accountants in industry and bring their expertise to SMEs.
Together with their impressive list of guest presenters, Paul and David are the brave souls needed to fight through the noise and give accountants in practice the support and information they deserve.
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