Do You Need Help Managing a Business Partnership?


Do You Need Help Managing a Business Partnership?

Small Businesses come in all shapes and sizes as do relationships.

Each is unique, dynamic and operating from both spoken and unspoken rules, understandings and values.

The place where ‘business’ and ‘relationships’ meet most intimately is within a ‘business partnership’.

A business partnership can be just as intimate and emotionally rewarding as a personal relationship. Business partnerships have some significant benefits when they work.

Having been in a business partnership with my husband for over 18 years I have a great appreciation for how things can go well.

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On the flip side having also been in a failed business partnership I know it can be just as stressful, emotional and painful as the breakdown of a personal relationship.

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If you are considering going into a business partnership or are already in one, there are some simple but significant things you can do to make it work.

Identifying reoccurring issues in your personal relationships is vital. These can be the same issues that lead to a business partnership breakdown.

If you identify these issues as a function of how you operate in a personal relationship can save yourself and your business partner a lot of heartache. That’s good news!

Here are some additional tips to ensure your business partnership is forever.

Go back over your most significant personal relationships:

1. What were the main issues?

Is there is a reoccurring complaint from each of your relationships? If the same issues kept showing up it’s likely they will show up in a business relationship as well. Don’t make this a problem. Get clear about your strengths and weaknesses and discuss them with your business partner.

2. Times are changing.

If you feel you have outgrown the issues ask yourself ‘How do I know?’ What evidence do you have that you are doing it differently? Have you already had a successful outcome with your new strategies or is it still theoretical?

Emotions and our reactions to them are not always logical. The brain will only produce what you have practiced the most. This is especially true when we are stressed. Therefore just hoping you will do differently is a sure bet on repeating the same mistakes.

Start practicing doing things differently and congratulate yourself every time this produces a positive outcome. If not, correct and give it another go.

3. Decide on the rules.

Do you have a communication strategy for when things get tough? Has the other party agreed? Is it written down? Making agreements that you are both prepared to sign your name to increases security and accountability within the relationship.

4. Neutral is the new black.

Have you agreed on your SWITZERLAND? – someone neutral who will support you both to resolution when there is disagreement. This could be a business coach for example.

5. Where’s my Teddy?

Do you have an independent sounding board? We all need someone we can blow off steam with that has no influence on the business partnership. Just remember, telling someone the same problem more than once but not taking action is just you being ‘right’. It will not help. Take action.

These types of conversations are really where the rubber meets the road. They will make the difference between business partnership success and failure. Your partner’s willingness to discuss things is also an indication of their willingness to take responsibility for ensuring you both have a happily ever after.

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  • Valerie Orton

    Good article Linda and some excellent points about relationships and what to look for.

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