By Dorene Lehavi
A business partner is someone with whom to share responsibilities, complement your skills, and provide more for clients than you can do alone. Like a good marriage a business partnership that works is a great thing. Most partnerships don’t work well but could if the partners paid attention to some very important issues in their relationship at the outset.
There is much more to a business partnership than sharing a great idea and having complementary skills, although that is a great place to start. The relationship between partners is the key to the success of the business, and when their relationship is compromised, so is the business.
It is not unusual following the startup excitement and possible early success, that the partners begin feeling annoyed with each other. They discover that beyond the initial impressions that they are well suited to work with each other that there are other aspects of the relationship to consider. Unfortunately, some of it can be annoying or downright maddening.
For example, you find out that your partner is a workaholic and not happy that you prefer taking time to play. Or, you are the workaholic and you see that your partner does not devote the same amount of time and energy to business as you do.
Maybe your partner lets you know that he feels his role in the business is much more important than yours and wants additional compensation and recognition. Or you both function by putting out fires and rarely sit down and have a conversation.
These are all indications of important differences. No two people are the same and there is no perfect match.
If any of these situations, or others, arises, you have choices: You can argue, you can harbor the resentment that grows, or you can avoid each other and let things happen as they will. In each of these instances your relationship is heading into a downward spiral that eventually can lead to a painful and expensive breakup. At best, you are leaving good money on the table because instead of focusing on the business, your attention is being diverted by negative emotions that drain your energy and resources.
You can make a better choice. You can talk about the issues to find ways to nip them in the bud and resolve the problem. To do this, there are some basic rules that everyone must adhere to.
Commitment both to the partnership and to the business as well as trust and respect for each other are essential. If you have these three things in your relationship, you can work out most everything that could threaten your partnership.
However, if emotions are too high and you cannot do this on your own, engage an expert, objective outsider, (not a family member or friend) such as a coach or expert in your industry to facilitate these conversations until emotions are contained and you are back on track.
There are many people who benefit from your success in business and lose if you fail. Beyond the partners, there are employees, vendors, clients, the community in which you reside and contribute, and of course, family members and friends. Some of these people may have invested financially in the business and others offer support of a different nature.
A new economy is emerging that will be built on the success of small and mid-size businesses offering jobs and needed services. A lot is riding on the success of your partnership! Don’t squander your time, efforts, money, self-esteem, and your dream because you don’t know how to have the necessary conversations.
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Dr. Lehavi’s mission is to reverse the statistic that most partnerships fail to most succeed. She is the creator of unique success oriented DIY tools such as the popular Business Partnership and Joint Venture Agreement Templates. Dorene Lehavi, Ph.D., transitioned her practice as a therapist to coaching, where she has over 20 years of experience as the recognized expert in business partnership relationships. She earned her doctorate at University of Southern California and MSW at Hunter College, NYC.