No business is an island unto itself — companies need strong partnerships to survive. Every contract you sign, and every hand you shake represents the beginning of a relationship, one that can have an immense impact on how you do business. 

It can be difficult to know ahead of time how a certain partnership will affect your company. While you may never be able to know for certain whether or not a partnership will be symbiotic in the long-term, you can start by identifying the partners most crucial to your operations. While every company is different, they all need a key group of allies to survive, such as:

1. Accountants

You may make money, but accountants are the ones who help make that money work for you. Considering the key role that accounts play in making businesses work, far too many leaders don’t feel their trusted partners are doing enough. According to a report published by payroll services company OnPay, only 61% of small business owners are delighted with the range of services their accountant provides. If you want that partnership to work, you need to find an accountant ready to meet your needs.

Businesspeople tend to think of accountants as a homogeneous group, but this is far from the truth: up to one-third of accountants now consider themselves specialists, with even more on their way to becoming ones. Don’t feel the need to settle for the first accountant you come across; do a thorough search for an individual with specialties that match the way you do business.

2. Vendors

Your company needs stuff, and your vendors get you the stuff you need — simple, right? As most business leaders know, the reality is far more complicated than that. Working with vendors means managing logistics, costs, and establishing a healthy rapport, sometimes with dozens of different companies at once. It’s no wonder that, according to a survey done by TechRepublic, 57% of IT departments are now spending more time on vendors than they did just two years ago.

Working successfully with vendors means finding the right fit early on. While you may be tempted to jump on a good deal when you see one, you’ll have to work closely with a vendor for what may end up being years into the future — not even the best prices can save a doomed relationship. Ensure that other factors like location, company size, and client number all check out; the result will be better procurement for you in the long run.

3. Lawyers

While corporate spending on outside lawyers may be plummeting, most small and many mid-sized businesses simply can’t afford to have an in-house legal team. If you’re forced to have your legal work done outside the office, you know that the right lawyer can do wonders for your company — and the wrong one can hurt big.

Lawyers are even more likely to be specialized than accountants, so there’s no excuse not to find someone fully capable of taking on any challenge you may throw at them. Because most charge by the hour, you can also have several different lawyers, each prepared to take on whatever challenges they’re best suited for — whatever makes the most sense for your business.

4. Property Management

Never before has the importance of having a good relationship with your property manager been so clear: 25% of small businesses have not paid full rent on time since March, according to referral network Alignable. In times like these, having the right property manager is the difference between operation and eviction — a difference that can mean the whole world for some companies.

As with vendors, never choose a location based on price alone: you may be able to afford it now, but what will things look like if you have to delay payment for a couple of months? Connect with a property manager interested in more than just on-time payments; if you can find someone invested in your company’s mission, you’re bound to have a better relationship in the long run. 

If you can learn a lot about a person by meeting their friends, you can learn more about a business by researching their partners. The agreements you enter into will define your company for years to come, so be sure to choose them carefully.

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Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at