According to Merriam-Webster.com “A joint venture is a partnership between two or more companies that work jointly for a specific period of time.“ For small businesses this can mean working with other businesses to purchase advertising in a local magazine. For a small handcrafter it could mean partnering with another crafter to save money at a craft show. Whichever way you choose to work with someone, you must first develop a strong relationship. You must also determine your goal for the partnership as well as the responsibilities of each partner.

First, you need to develop a strong relationship with your future partner. You want to know all about their business and their business goals. What do they value? Do these values match yours? One way you can develop a relationship with potential partners is to participate in their blog, forum, and on social media.

Once you determine that you are a good match you need to develop your relationship further. Start out small and work your way up to more in-depth projects. You might start out by exchanging email list ads or creating a freebie together. Once you know how this works out for both parties you can determine if another joint project is in your future.

Before jumping into a joint project you need to know your goals first. What are your business goals? Where do you want your business to move? How will a partnership get you there? What can you offer of value?

Choosing just any partnership will not do, especially if it is a mismatched team. You need to have a personal, tailored partnership that works for both. A business partnership is like a long-term relationship. You first go through a courtship, you move onto steady dating then an engagement and finally you know each other so well that you are willing to commit to marriage.

Can the prospective partner be trusted to complete a project on time? How do their products and services compare to yours? Complimentary products are great but products that exceed yours alone will benefit your customers best. You can co-create a product together by using each other’s strengths to make a superb product. Split the profits based on the skills used and then promote the product to your customers.

Finally it is important that you put everything in writing. A handshake can be enough for sharing a craft booth but a written contract is even better. Be sure to list all responsibilities of each person involved, deadlines, and the details of the project, the time limit, as well as the financial rewards for each.

Remember that partnerships have a high incidence of failure. To beat the statistics and be successful, be sure to research your potential partner thoroughly. Talk to past partners, clients and check out their products. Spend time talking to your potential partner and really get to know them on a personal level to identify their business mission, goals and their personal values. Finally, put everything in writing.

Partnerships are a great way to move your business forward. It saves you time as you will share the workload with someone else. It also saves you money as you can pull your skills, talents and finances together to reach a wider audience.