On choosing a professional partnership

September 13, 2013

We need professional partners, and not just fee for service providers.  And we need to be invested in the relationships, and active in providing information, helping to define problems, evaluating proposed solutions, etc.

This post began in response to a question about choosing an attorney for a new business or non-profit organization.  Several other people had offered advice about paying attention to the attorney’s specialities, about the size and responsiveness of their organization, etc.  I agreed with all of this, but suggested looking not just at the provider, but about the kind of relationship required.

Here’s what I wrote in that post:

I believe there’s more. Your relationship with your attorneys (there may be more than one!) must be a partnership. It’s not just a fee for service. Setting up the corporation, protecting trademarks, etc. is not that complex. But finding the right guidance moving forward, managing risk, defining business relationships . . . these can be complex and interesting.

I’d ask each potential attorney (or firm), “What will you want from me? What’s going to be my role in making this relationship work?” Listen carefully, to see if their response sounds like the foundation of a helpful and productive partnership.

I might note that the same questions are very relevant in interviewing potential consultants, advertising agencies, web developers . . . all your business partners.

Are you willing to nourish and value that relationship?  Can you hear the guidance and advice that will be offered, and still remain an active partner in deciding how to proceed.  Can you stake responsibility for steering your ship, even as you gather information and ideas from all of your “crew”?

 

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