How many times have you entered into a personal relationship expecting it to last only a few months? Not that many, hopefully.
In the fast moving environment of the IT industry we need to adopt the same long-term attitude. Too many IT partnerships break up because of insufficient flexibility on both sides and a lack of business insight.
The key to surviving, and even benefiting, from a long-term relationship with an IT supplier is to build a plan that assumes you will be in business not just for the next year, but five years and even 10 years down the track.
Equally, you need to make sure that your business is focused enough so that you are not at risk of becoming a jack-of-all-trades.
Typically, large IT vendors like to partner with experts in specific fields which can take a vendor's solutions to market by adding specific value for a certain target sector.
The next thing to remember is that, in many senses, we, the partners, are the customer-facing part of the IT vendor's business. We are the organisation with which the customer builds the relationship.
This means that we need to differentiate ourselves from the volume box shifters which pride themselves on low cost and high volume. Let them carry on investing their energies in building the best direct-sales models while we focus on the customer.
Building your business is vital. Most IT vendors will favour a business that is continually growing over one that is flat, and will avoid what appears to be just a fad.
It is all too easy to buy into the latest IT craze (we all remember Wap); the trick is to pick the winner. In our sector - the PC and laptop business - we've seen many fads come and go.
Finally, make your own business decisions. Yes, take advice and direction from the large IT vendors, but equally listen to your own counsel. Ultimately you know the market you're operating in better than anyone.
If someone had asked me 21 years ago if I would still be an IBM partner today, I would have said: "I hope so."
Of course, I had a lot to learn back then, but if someone asked me today if I was going to be an IBM partner in another 21 years from now, I'd say: "Absolutely."
Kevin Drew is managing director of IBM reseller Triangle.
Security firm set to become part of acquisitive Shearwater Group
Distributor merges three northern sites into one new hub in Warrington
Activist investor puts forward five director candidates as turmoil continues at security giant
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany