One of the greatest benefits of having a partner in business is that you get to share the workload.
The secret to getting it right for long term success is in the way you set it at the very beginning.
Too many partnerships get into trouble eventually, with bad feelings, blame and self-righteous declarations that “I’m doing more than my share and my partner isn’t doing what he said he would”. This scenario can be completely avoided if enough time is invested to think it through in as thoroughly detailed manner as possible at the start-up.
The most important step to avoid misunderstandings, poor memories and incorrect assumptions is to record the decisions you make into your partnership agreement so that you can always go back to it for clarification. Whatever the time and energy you devote to this process is a pittance compared to the cost that arguments and disagreements will have on the functioning of the business.
The first step is to brain storm every detail of the business based on your business plan. Be guided by your vision statement, your mission and your strategic plan and come up with all functions the business itself will need. Be as specific as you can.
Next get personal. What are the strengths, skills, talents, likes and dislikes of each partner? In which areas does each one consider their expertise and do they enjoy doing it.
Everyone can have dibs using these criteria to be in charge of for example, finance, sales, design, technology or anything else. Two possibilities may occur here.
- More than one may prefer the same area
- No partner wants or has any expertise in a given but necessary area
In the first scenario, some resolution, compromise or coin toss may be used.
In the second, either someone agrees to do what they don’t know or like well, at least for the time being or until they can afford to hire someone to do it, or hire now.
The partner in charge of a particular area such as finance, may or may not actually do the tasks required, but is accountable to oversee and make sure it is done by someone.
The partner who is not in charge of a particular area does not have a pass on his responsibility for the business as a whole and therefore, has to be in the know about the big picture at all times.
Too often partners focus their attention primarily on the area of their charge while assuming that other(s) are doing the same. A day comes when a crisis occurs such as loss of a major client, investments gone sour, bad decisions by one partner have been made regarding inventory, they are working in different directions and have lost sight of their vision. All of these and more occur because the partners are not meeting regularly to stay informed about how all of the parts are working together.
The high failure rate of partnerships can be reversed by taking the time to do it right at the start-up. But if you didn’t do it then, go back and do it now. If the conversation becomes emotional or difficult for any reason, invest in a session or two with a coach to facilitate. The ROI can be the saving of your partnership relationship and your business.
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