The Golden Rule applied to partnerships

June 8, 2010


As the Chief Handshaker at FreshBooks, I have negotiated many integration partnerships. Believe me when I say that how you negotiate speaks volumes about what kind of partner you will be. FreshBooks wants to be the best partner you’ve ever had, so we have developed some guildelines to help us negotiate.

The most important guideline is The Golden Rule. Partner with others as you would have them partner with you. It seems easy to follow, but it’s easier to break.

Recently, I was asked by a potential new partner to reveal the confidential numbers of his competitor that already integrates with FreshBooks. The partner felt this would help demonstrate the business value of an integration deal. That may seem like a perfectly reasonable question from his side of the table, but the Golden Rule teaches otherwise.

If he considered the converse situation, he would see what this question revealed about him. Would he want me to share his numbers with his competitor? What would you think of me as a partner if I did? Indeed, what kind of partner would I be?

Further, do I now have to expect that he’ll be sharing my numbers with my competitors? As you can see, the risk in this partnership has gone up based on one question.

It’s unfortunate because he asked the question so he could help me. I would benefit by closing the deal with his organization. Nevertheless, it’s much more important to me to be a good partner than to close a single new one.


about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.