Recently I ended a relationship with an alliance partner after several years of working together. The relationship had become dead, in that it was not the energetic, interesting collaboration it once was. It had not been a two-way conversation for more than a year. The alliance partner I am thinking about has some strategic direction issues, and the founder has some ethical and integrity problems. Much longer than it should have taken, I realized that not only is it dragging me down, but that I don’t want to be connected with all the things that frustrated me about them for some time.
This led me to think about how a business relationship has an energy and a life of its own.
As with any relationship, you can look at your professional alliances — groups you belong to, people you connect with on a regular basis, and those whose content or products you license — and see how you actually feel about them. I’m not talking about how logically the relationship makes sense…. but rather how you feel when you call them or meet with them. If it brings you down, then why do you continue to partner with them?
When I left my corporate career, it was the same feeling. I have learned to listen to that sense, and to look only for clients and business alliances that refresh, invigorate, and challenge in a positive way. I’m amazed when a business owner complains on and on about a poor fit client… they can’t stand working with this client and as soon as they (fill in the blank) – they will drop the client. Ha. How did this ever come about in the first place? If it is for financial reasons only – then you need to re-evaluate based on your vision and mission of your business.
Energy is a powerful thing. Often we find when clients boldly decide to end a business relationship with one of their worst customers – even if they are large – that other business and new opportunities immediately opens up.
Companies whom you do business with are a reflection of you. They are part of your environment. Remember that when you prolong a bad fit partnership and try to picture how different it might be if you counted your losses and moved on rather than being immovable and hoping that something might change.
One of my All Business colleagues and internationally recognized leader in the field of partnerships is author and speaker Sarah Gerdes. She writes about building and growing partnership relationships. Read her column, and her book for specific ideas and strategies for success when you team up with others.