Jim Schweigert President, Gro Alliance

I’ll get right to the point. Whenever you are evaluating the pros and cons of potential business partners, I am going to assume you only start with those that can deliver a quality product with quality service and at terms you find comfortable. With those as givens, I want to focus on three traits that make a partnership truly lasting and mutually beneficial.

  1. Trust – This is the absolute hallmark of any business relationship. Despite lawyers’ best efforts, there is no way every situation or contingency can be managed by a legal document. You need to work with people you trust to make decisions in your best interest when things don’t go exactly as planned. You need a partner that will stand behind a clear product failure even if the warranty is expired. You need a partner that will evenly allocate a hybrid in the event of a short crop or quality issue. In short, you need a partner that is on your side.
  1. Creativity – The seed industry is undergoing a massive consolidation between its largest players. As companies feel that impact, they will need partners that can help them take advantage of new opportunities and protect their current market presence. A true partner will always think of ways it can help improve its clients’ business, as that is key to its own success. You need a partner that is looking for ways to challenge the status quo and give its clients an advantage in the market.
  1. Transparency – The pace of business is always increasing. A company’s ability to quickly respond to an opportunity or threat can be the difference between success and failure. So, you need partners who provide all the critical information to make decisions. That information needs to be accessible, accurate, relevant, actionable and available in real-time. In fact, the more open a potential partner is, the more comfortable that partner is with you understanding the inner workings of its organization. By being transparent, a partner is demonstrating its confidence in its own people, processes and expertise. For example, if a seed producer doesn’t provide the exact location and access to its production fields, you are left to wonder what’s wrong with them. Why would that company not want you to visit those fields?

In closing, true and lasting business partnerships are built on trust, creativity and transparency. As you evaluate the myriad options you have in all areas of your business, keep the traits of a good partner in mind. Remember, your success depends on you choosing partners that care as much about your business as you do.