What to Avoid: A checklist of potential problems

Listed below are some of the issues that may cause concern when forming a community business partnership.

These points can be used as a reference during the establishment of a community business partnership. It can also be used once your business or group is in a partnership and recognises some of the challenges in building a solid relationship.

While many of these problems can be eliminated through shared planning or discussions, some problems on this list are in conflict with the basic principles of partnership. They may be almost impossible to overcome, and probably indicate that your business or community group should re-think the partnership it is contemplating.

Lack of planning

Simply put, the most important issue in setting up any partnership is good planning. Without it, there is no way that partnership will survive and prosper.

Have you done everything to ensure your partnership does not suffer from:

  • Resource problems. Not having the resources, or not being willing to share them, to make a community business partnership a success.
  • Unclear goals and direction. Having no goals or purpose, disagreeing on goals or setting unrealistic goals.
  • No measurement of partnership status or success. How do you know if your partnership is working and achieving its aims if there is no way to measure its progress?
  • Confusion over the basic running of the partnership. Including confusion over responsibilities, events, how to manage conflict and a number of other issues.
Lack of knowledge

A lack of knowledge means you do not know enough about your prospective community business partner and what makes them tick.

Have you done everything to ensure your partnership does not suffer from:

  • No common ground, values or philosophies. It is too late once you are in a partnership to realise you and your partner do not share basic values or philosophies. That knowledge needs to be gained beforehand.
Lack of respect/closeness

Partners need to have respect for each other, and need to be close enough to grow and improve that level of respect.

Have you done everything to ensure your partnership does not suffer from:

  • A lack of trust and honesty. If your group is entering into a partnership, you need to be able to trust the other party, and you need to be sure that "what you see is what you get" - that there are no hidden agendas or ulterior motives.
  • Communication problems. If there is an inability, through a lack of respect or closeness, to truthfully communicate ideas, discuss problems or talk through issues in a partnership, the arrangement will not prosper.
  • Dislike of partner's values and opinions. Without at least a solid base of common opinions and values, a partnership will quickly falter.
  • Previous conflicts flaring again. If there has been a previous conflict between partners, both need to feel comfortable that it has been resolved and that they can work respectfully and closely in a partnership.
Lack of sharing:

Partnerships and sharing go hand-in-hand. Without sharing and the willingness to share, a partnership will not succeed.

Have you done everything to ensure your partnership does not suffer from:

  • No shared responsibilities: Just as a lack of planning can cause structural problems, so can a lack of sharing. In other words, if your partnership is not willing to share the responsibilities, it will not achieve its aims.
  • No shared benefits: Again, problems will arise if partners are not willing to share the benefits of their partnership - between themselves and through the wider community.
Lack of commitment:

Both groups have to want to be in a partnership, and be committed to its improvement and upkeep.

Have you done everything to ensure your partnership does not suffer from:

  • No value being placed in the partnership: Simply forming a partnership is not enough, there has to be value placed on it and a commitment from both parties to work at it constantly and in unison. If either party's heart is not in the partnership, it will not work.
  • A small number of "partnership drivers": It is no use relying on a select few to drive a community business partnership forward. Everyone should be willing to do their bit to support the arrangement.