Understand the environment in which your partners operate. As a start-up you may be an outsider trying to penetrate a new environment. If you hope to derive the most value, acclimate to the environment. When looking at vendors understand if their schedule aligned with your own. Are their work habits similar to your own? Are you a type A driven personality catering to a laid back, relaxed market/partnership? How will you instill a sense of urgency to partners who are set in their ways?
Do your partners have a set business model that needs your service? How rigid are they in their ways? Are you going to need to change their behavior?
Try This: Interview partners and vendors just as you would employees. You’ll likely be working with them just as much. Its important to feel a connection with vendors and partners and not simply view them as outsourced options.