As a small business just starting out, one of the ingredients of success that is almost readily available to you is partnerships.

It involves working with another organization (big or small) to create value for your market. And then you get to share the risks and benefits.

But partnerships aren’t just something you jump into considering only the prospects it will bring to your business.

There are certain considerations you must bear in mind before taking the leap, no matter how desperately you need it.

First, by the time you are entering into any partnership, you don’t want to allow yourself to be bullied into signing what you don’t really like or what wouldn’t benefit your company in the long run.

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“What I see is that so many small businesses are in a hurry to get started so when people push anything to them, they just accept it,” said Lynda Saint-Nwafor, who is the Chief Enterprise Business Officer of MTN Nigeria.

Mrs Saint Nwafor was speaking on ''Partnerships: The Path To Transformation” at a meeting organised by Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce in Lagos on Thursday.

According to her, “It is important as a small business, that you keep your partnerships very clear and transparent. The terms of engagement need to be very clear. The contract needs to be very tight and the exit clauses are clearly designed.

“This is so that if any of the parties in the partnership decides to exit, there has to be clear steps that should be taken. There has to be clear administrative process, and everything has to also be clearly captured”.

She added: “If you are a startup, when a big organisation gives you a contract, take time to study it and try to spend some time with your lawyers to go through it.”

Speaking further, she noted that you must also understand that there are clear distinctions between partnerships and joint ventures.

In partnership, she said, there are two organisations, and there are two different books. And the two organisations manage their books and taxes differently. There are terms of engagement and they agree on how to manage their risks and share revenue.

In joint venture, there is a single book, since two people come together to create an entity. There is a single book managed by representatives identifiable by the two organisations.

She added that to make partnership a success, the parties involved must have a structured approach, while bearing in mind that size does not always determine leadership in partnerships.

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