Do you have a Business Partner?

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There are many reasons why you might decide to partner with someone and at least as many reasons not to. This is a very difficult subject and I’ve seen more partnerships breaking apart then growing together.

Lets first be clear what a partnership is:

A partnership is an arrangement where parties, known as partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interest (based on Wikipedia).

It sounds very technical, but it involves humans with feelings and personality and that can make it difficult. It’s especially difficult if you had the idea and now you are looking for someone to join. In my experience, it already starts with it being your idea (and always will be), which puts you in a unique position. It means you have to be willing to give up that right of ownership in a partnership. Depending on the nature of the partners, this can cause conflicts during the build-up process if there are different points of view. For a partnership to work you need to be clear about the following points (partnership agreements):

  • Each partner’s role and responsibility
  • The expectations of each other
  • The broader goal of the business and its parts
  • Each partners willingness to invest time and/or money into the business
  • A trust agreement
  • An action plan
  • A conflict plan
  • An exit plan

Working in a team requires a different rhythm then working alone. If you are an ideas person like me, swapping over with ideas every minute of the day, you can’t expect your partner to think the same way. You might have no problem in changing direction in a blink of an eye or add a new product or service to your palette, but you might overrun your partner and that causes frustration and friction.

Meetings help set direction

The way I deal with this is by scheduling a meeting with my partner every three months. During this time no changes to any part of the business will be done (except in emergencies). Whatever ideas my partner or I might have, we write them down and leave them to one side until just a few days before the meeting. We go through the list and whatever idea we still think might be worthwhile implementing we keep and the rest will be deleted. In the meeting, we discuss all our valid ideas and agree on one or two main ideas to implement for the next quarter. This gives us a chance to review our ideas before wasting each others time and it gives us a chance to adjust to the changes.

By the way, I got used to doing this even with projects on which I am working on my own. It just allows for a more stable and customer-friendly process. Don’t forget, customers are also partners. I always recommend for all parties to take a personality or strength finder test. It helps to identify where you are really good at and where you suck and shows how compatible you really are. At least it makes you think about it. It also gives you the base on how to split the workload based on your strength.

Always treat others the same way you would like to be treated yourself!

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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