The Deer tick is a black-legged tick that needs blood at every stage in its life cycle so it finds a host, piggybacks on them and feeds on their blood. But instead of being grateful to its host, the tick infects it with a disease that eventually leads to the host’s death.
This type of Parasitic relationship is very common in nature. In fact, the mosquito is a more common example. But not all relationships in nature are parasitic. There are relationships – Commensal where the benefactor does nothing to or for the host and the best of them all – the Mutual ones, where both parties benefit from each other.
Last year, I was called to serve on the board of an Agribusiness and Real Estate company. It was a tough year. The real estate arm of the business had titles to lands but could not develop because people weren’t buying. The pandemic had hit hard. At some point, we even had to let go of some staff and restructure the operations. At one of our strategy sessions, when the economy started to open up, we decided to commence development on some of our real estate assets to unlock value. We would need a team to handle the project from development to sales. It looked good on paper.
The only challenge was that we were not willing to incur the overhead cost associated with hiring and managing staff. We didn’t have the resources. We were spread thin. It was a chicken and egg situation. And because this particular property was not in a prime location, joint venture partners weren’t willing to work with us. We literarily had to try to make omelets without breaking eggs.
Some weeks later, a friend of mine from way back came visiting. He had worked with a real estate development company for 10 years. He had well-rounded experience in the industry. From Business development/ sales exec to the site manager to project manager. He had paid his dues and was looking at starting out on his own. He came to discuss his plans with me. He told me that he had built a reputation for himself in the real estate space and has clients that trust him.
He had the network to market any development project. His only problem was capital or property to start with. He had a registered company and was about to resign from his current employer and was not ready to work for someone. I listened with a straight face as he went on and on but deep down inside- my heart was smiling and saying – Baba God, I dey see your hand.
This was a typical case of – Person wey wan die to meet a person wey ready to kill Amit was a perfect fit. In fact, a marriage made in heaven. I could already see the deal in my head before he finished talking. I did the introductions and 3 months later, actually, a few days ago, in a small signing ceremony, we appended signatures on the agreements before our lawyers and witnesses. His company will handle the development and marketing of the property. All parties got what they were looking for. A mutually beneficial relationship. A win-win for all.
As an SME, it is very important to review your relationships with your partners. Every relationship falls within the 3 types in nature. Don’t get it twisted. The business environment is like a mini food chain. You need to understand the pecking order and choose your position. In any transaction or engagement, you must be deliberate about the type of relationship being forged. A mutually beneficial one is best because a win-win always leads to an increase for both parties.
I was in a sales training last week where the facilitator talked about customers/clients that ask for discounts. He advised that we never give a discount without securing a testimonial or a referral. That is being deliberate about the dynamics and outcome of a simple transaction. As a business owner, you need to be alert to opportunities. You don’t have to wait on them to come to you.
You must train yourself to always take 360 degrees look at every encounter or transaction and keep an open mind. You never know where the opportunity will come from. Every meeting, encounter, or engagement happens for a purpose. Your job is to find the purpose and see how you can rewire it to serve your purpose. Towards the achievement of your overall vision.
If a relationship is going to be commensal, you are better off being the benefactor. And while I do not support or recommend a parasitic relationship, if you ever find yourself in one, make sure that you are not the host that dies off at the end.