There are people who see business as a zero-sum game. There can be only one winner, they think. If one person wins, then someone else has to lose. And that’s how they look at relationships and partnerships: who is “winning” the relationship or partnership? Who is getting the better deal?
That’s a very cynical way of looking at business—and life. And it misses out on some of the most valuable parts of life as an entrepreneur.
Relationships are essential to business. A key element of many successful businesses is the amount of time spent talking to other people and building relationships. You have to go in willing to learn, without an agenda. The more people you engage with, the more people you really talk with and listen to, the more you learn. And you have to go in without an agenda because that’s the only way to ensure that you’re not just confirming your bias.
And as you build those relationships, it also gives you more platforms and avenues to expand your own business—while at the same time helping out your partner to expand his business, too.
The amazing thing is building a partnership that works for every person involved. If a partnership is great for one partner but does nothing for the other, then why would that partnership last? The only way to create a lasting relationship is to make it a win-win. The win-win goes back to the relationship-building stage. If you’re really listening, really engaging with people, you’ll learn what they need. You’re looking for ways they can help you, but you’re also looking for ways that you can help them.