BlackLine Blog

November 09, 2014

The Value in a True, Collaborative Business Partner

Leadership & Culture
2 Minute Read

Jerrad Hall

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“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed” -- Samuel Johnson

What follows isn’t new or revolutionary, but rather a reminder of a simple, yet valuable business tool: the Partner.

Immediate access to knowledge is more important than being knowledgeable.

Let this sink in for a moment… what does it really mean?

As we continue to climb out of the recent economic downturn, companies and their leadership are being asked to do more with less. Warren Buffet famously said that “It’s only when the tide goes out that you can see who’s been swimming naked.” I believe it’s fair to say that more than a few companies have been “exposed” of late as they look to recover from recent events.

The importance of business partners has never been so paramount. Global advisors, CPA firms, attorneys, bankers, consulting firms, recruiters, and technology experts should all be on speed-dial in any executive’s “phone-a-friend” Rolodex. The world is getting smaller; everyone is linked, connected, and reachable. There’s no longer the need, or even the option for that matter, to have a single go-to employee expert for everything.

CFO’s can’t play the part of CPA, lawyer, and HR Director simultaneously. Companies either see too much risk in centralizing such a vast amount of company knowledge in a single person and they purposely diversify, or they simply lack the resources or core competencies to perform certain functions efficiently.

Is your organization actively utilizing strategic partnerships?

If you don’t know, then the answer is probably “no.” These relationships don’t happen by accident. As a folksy mentor of mine used to say, “the only thing that falls into place is dirt”. Companies and managers must be intentional and deliberate in seeking out and investing in these relationships. Furthermore, the time to seek out and invest in these relationships is long before you or your firm has the need for services that a potential partner(s) can provide.

So what do you look for in a potential business partner?

Experience and expertise are vital but culture and trust are equally important. At the end of the day, you should have a partner who provides recommendations for solutions to your problems and not one who waits for you to figure out where potential roadblocks may exist.

For example, if a client called and said “we have an account reconciliation problem, help!” would your business partner offer to send out an army of consultants out to “tackle” the problem or would they recommend taking a look at BlackLine? In other words, a partner should put your business interests in front of their own revenue targets while providing insight, guidance, and solutions based on their expertise.

Are you getting the most out of your business partners, or are your business partners getting the most out of you?

About the Author


Jerrad Hall