You’re entering a partnership to realize the true potential and power of collaboration.
You want to leverage your skill sets, increase the speed and magnitude of your output and to garner support from one another.
It should be positive and meaningful for everyone involved.
A good synergy can move your growth curve exponentially.
Partnerships can also alleviate the overwhelming and demanding workload of a sole proprietor. Two or more intelligent and capable people will be far more productive than a solo operator if you work together.
We have unique skill sets and expertise. We learn from one another. We are motivated by one another. We should be there to help one another.
“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” — Vince Lombardi
But trying to bring meaningful work to the forefront of the market and ultimately be compensated for it is stressful. Things never play out perfectly.
Egos can be bruised, dreams shattered and tempers can flare. You have to be realistic.
Being properly prepared and aware of this potential is extremely important.
You’re conducting business in a marketplace. Markets are composed of individuals making independent decisions resulting in collective trends.
It’s not that complicated.
Let’s deduce it even further. Your business is composed of individuals completing independent tasks for collective goals.
People – markets. People – partnerships.
The common denominator – emotion.
Things happen as we journey down the road. They will always happen.
Problems manifest in ways you won’t expect nor see coming. Being on the same page as your partner can make the difference between survival and implosion.
Aside from having some form of financing, a realistic business plan that you can execute on, a well thought out and articulated mission statement and the basic essentials to conduct business there comes another consideration.
A vital one.
How well do you know the individuals you’re about to enter into a partnership with?
Have you openly discussed the important issues that may affect your ability to work productively as a team?
Do you enjoy being around one another? Can you handle one another’s weaknesses and misgivings?
We’re wild, we’re meek, we’re lazy, we’re overbearing. We’re your partner. Are you ready?
Understanding the implications of bringing different personalities together is critical to retaining cohesion and avoiding trouble down the road.
People tend to shy away from difficult discussions. Hard topics and sensitive issues are avoided by many. They can be uncomfortable but not nearly as uncomfortable as you’re entire business collapsing because you can’t sit in the same building as your partners.
The reality is that these are the potential issues that, if not acknowledged and properly managed, will hurt your partnership once you’re deeply entrenched.
The things you were too timid to discuss, too anxious to comes to terms with, too indifferent or naive to consider will hit you like a sledgehammer.
They will leave you confused, angry and working three times as hard to repair what you simply didn’t come to terms with before you entered the partnership.
Reality is harsh at times. You must consider certain things if you’re going to go into business with another person.
You’re going to have a conflict between one another. It’s unavoidable. Business is stressful and issues can be taken personally
Let’s breakdown several of these considerations.
Equal division of labor
One of the most common issue within partnerships is the perception of who does more work and who adds more value to the bottom line.
Typically, this is a silent, festering irritant that partners keep quiet about. They’ll drop underhanded hints to support staff and management but won’t have the courage to put on the table. Some totally suppress it to avoid the combustible results of airing the laundry.
It doesn’t necessarily come to the surface until a larger problem makes it impossible to ignore.
All partnership agreements should have a clause defining the fairness relative to equal output. Most of these agreements have holes in them. It is always a grey area.
Legal contracts aside, having a real conversation at the beginning stages sets the tone for easier discussions when one partner feels slighted by the production of the other.
Set realistic expectations.
When you’re subjected to stress, people react emotionally. Conflicts arise.
As sure as the sun will rise and the tide will turn, you’re going to lock horns. Be prepared.
You’re adults. Talk to one another. Resolve things rationally and stay productive. Don’t fire the coffee maker at each other. Preserve that caffeine.
It is toxic to retain a bitter attitude towards one another. It will scorch the fields of gold.
Conflict resolution is a must.
Withholding items of importance
Typically, one partner will handle the operations/finance/back office while the other partner(s) handle the commercial portion of the enterprise. This is standard in small businesses.
There can be times when, for whatever reason, one partner decides to withhold valuable information about the operation, taxes, new deals, new leads, and many more. There are so many variables, it is impossible to list them all.
Don’t do this. It breaks trust and will instill elements of doubt, anger, and retribution.
You’re partners. Share everything. Capitalize on everything together and deal with issues together. It is the best way to grow and retain the harmony that is critical to your sustainability.
Owning a business affords certain benefits.
Often partners become disagreeable in what’s fair in terms of liberties.
Others feel that one partner can be abusive and harmful towards the balance sheet of the company.
Talk about this before it gets out of hand.
Friends and family
It’s fun and convenient to work with good friends and family. When things are going well, nothing is better.
However, adding friends and family to your business mix can be treacherous.
Close personal relationships intensify feelings. Things that wouldn’t be an issue typically become a major issue, simply because you’re so closely related.
Many businesses have collapsed and folded because of interpersonal family tension and strife.
Furthermore, these tensions bleed back into life outside the office and cause deeper issues on the home front.
Nepotism and entitlement are real issues.
Erosion of relationships
Working side by side, day after day, holding emotions inside and avoiding conflict. That’s can occur in any typical working environment.
Add the element of being fully vested and things intensify significantly.
If you feel any hostility or resentment towards your partner(s), you owe it to your vision and your company to discuss it openly.
Life happens to all of us. Personal issues bleed in. Our focus can pivot from the sheer weight of what’s eating us alive.
You can’t keep this in. Be transparent and be honest with your partners. They’ll see, clear as day, from your diminished output that things aren’t where they typically are. They’ll notice your personality changes. They’ll feel you’re quickly angered and simply not present.
“One thing you can’t hide is when you’re crippled inside.” John Lennon
Compassion is universal. At least, it should be. Be open and embrace the support that should be readily available to you.
If you’re met with spite or indifference, that’s a thundering statement about the character of your partner and the future you have committed to.
Errors and omissions
We all bleed. We are human. We’re going to make mistakes. We all do.
You will make mistakes and your partners will make mistakes.
Sometimes one of you will totally drop the ball and forget something of importance.
Holding grudges and casting blame is lighting fire on the issues at hand.
Fix the problem and move on. There will be more to deal with.
Partnerships are meant to boost your business and help you realize your potential.
They should be considered a great opportunity. An important opportunity.
Just remember to be realistic, honest and truthful when you sit down to discuss your hopes and dreams.
We’re emotional. Table that. And table how you’ll handle it.
Thank you for reading.