The fifth edition of the Entrepreneurs’ Hangout held on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. The discussion was led by Tonye Patrick Cole, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Sahara Group on The Benefits of Collaboration.
Mr. Tonye laid the foundations for discussion noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it uncertainty and fear of the unknown as this has not been experienced before and everyone is just moving with the flow not sure how to deal with the situation. However, we need to understand that this is a very rare event and our mindset is very important in helping us deal with scaling through the season. A mindset of what can be leveraged on to develop is most helpful.
Specific highlights discussed include:
· Source for partners based on the values that will be contributed to the organization and based on sentiments
· Leverage on the different skills of each partner is essential for growth and development
· Establish that profit in the business is not the focus but on growing the business especially in the early stages.
· Keep family and close relationships out of the business.
· Trust and transparency in all dealings is crucial between partners. No partner should leave room to be questioned by the others.
· Record keeping especially financial is crucial to the growth and development of any organization
· The structure is very critical for a business that will grow.
· Building relationships may be expensive in time and effort but it paves the way for you on the long run
· Every situation and season is there for a reason so leverage on them and develop the opportunities
In conclusion, he emphasized again the importance of having a mindset to learn and extract the opportunity in the season. We must move with the flow to ensure we stay current.
Questions and Answers:
Question - Based on your years of experiences, are there specific traits to focus on in choosing potential partners and collaborators?
Answer – Never enter into a partnership just for sentimental or emotional reasons. Source for persons whom you are sure will deliver the needed value for the partnership you are seeking to develop. Approach partnerships based on the standards you are sure other collaborators will deliver for the benefit of the business.
Question - Is it advisable to go you into partnership with someone you don’t likeeven though the person brings value to the business?
Answer – Not liking a person is a pointer to the fact that specific virtues are not agreed upon by both of you. Such a person is better to have an investor or distant contributor to the business but for regular communication, as there is bound to be friction in that relationship.
Question - What important clauses should we look out for in documentation when agreeing to partnership/collaboration?
Answer – Great partnerships are not dependent on the “properness” ofdocumentation. As earlier communicated, the focus should instead be on engaging partners who portray the values that are necessary to complement and improve the organization.
Question - In times of a pandemic like the one we are facing right now where pivoting may be the right avenue to thrive hence capitalizing on an opportunity, how does one filter and finalize quickly on the choice of a partner?
Answer – No partners who have the same traits, beliefs and values can run a successful business. In all, the source for partners who have different mindsets than you and yet are important to the success of the collaboration. Example- A person who is naturally trusting should find a partner who can decipher relationships that will not benefit the business.
Question - For a partnership that has been in existence and was going on well until family disagreements began to disturb the flow, would discontinuing be the correct approach?
Answer - Keep family out of your business. There should be a limit to how family and other close relationships can interfere or they might unknowingly out of love destroy. However, this can be described as an inflexion point (a crisis situation when a strategic and maybe difficult decision needs to be made)
Question - How do you manage changes in the mindset, goals and visions among partners?
Answer – Understanding that each role in the partnership has its specificresponsibilities and must be respected. However, to avoid issues around who owns and idea and who developed/worked for the contract, my partners and I split shares in the organization very early in the business. This way, no one was perceived as benefitting from the profits more than the others. Also, partners must learn to resolve issues that may arise without hurting the fabric of the partnership.
Question - Gifts and talents are often character neutral. How can we deal with a partner who is using gift or talent initially for the organization’s profiting to personal benefit and sabotage of the business?
Answer – I think that once a partner begins to prefer personal benefit as can be gained from to the upliftment of the business, it is wise to terminate such partnership
Question - Record keeping is crucial to help any organization know the progress of any organization, however, I am not able to do it well, Is this normal and how do you advise I go about it?
Answer – Yes, it’s normal for most entrepreneurs do not want to engage in suchadministrative tasks. However, there are businesses or individuals who can be engaged on a contract basis to do this.
Question - What advice would you give youths on making the best decisions on partnerships?
Answer – Principles such as integrity, trust are crucial. Knowing your strengths and seeking partners to complement your weakness and believe in the business vision and purpose and are readily available to drive the business towards growth. Social media is a great place to learn about what persons hold dear as they most persons post on there without thinking first preparing.
Question - What is one trait that has helped through your journey? Is there any regret you have or anything you wish you did differently? Any advice for the upcoming generation?
Answer – I believe everything happens for a reason, every decision taken has a purpose and should be seen as an opportunity to learn. This helped me ensure I have no regrets-Learn from everything and every situation you find yourself, all things and situations are divinely orchestrated so understand and take advantage of having a teachable approach at all time.
Question - How do you deal with reputatiol challenges especially in the industry you belong to? Also, what were your biggest fears and how you did deal with them?
Answer - In my sector, people automatically assume that stakeholders are corrupt and my organization has been prejudiced based on this assumption many times. We learnt early to ensure that we conducted our transactions legitimately- building relationships helped us avoid bribery. Investing in relationships may be expensive in that it takes time and effort but cheaper in the long run. Always expect your businesses and processes to be probed, just ensure you are readily available with correct records and strength of character.