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Leading from the Core

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Choose your Business Partners Wisely!

Posted on December 21st, 2016 by Randall Taussig

Business partnerships are real relationships and just as volatile.

Over years of consulting and coaching I have witnessed firsthand how partnerships can end badly.

Maybe you started the business as best friends from college and the business took off – you’re 50/50 partners and experiencing the American dream. Then one day, you begin to drift. You want to grow the business while your partner likes the business “just the way it is.” The frustrations begin.

You begin arguing in meetings. Employees notice something is different. Everyone feels the building tension.

Finally, things come to blows. You decide to split up, but don’t agree on how. Lawyers get involved. Family gets involved. Employees start floating their resumes… What could you have done differently?

Business partnerships must begin with clarity and trust

There must first be absolute clarity around the company’s Vision as well as each partner’s role in getting there. 1 + 1 should equal 3 or more!

Beyond clarity, comes trust. Healthy/successful partners are able to address ANYTHING at ANY time – especially when things get tense.

What to look for in a partnership?

Here are three quick questions to ask yourself BEFORE you agree to partner up:

Have you defined a clear Vision, agreed by all partners (use the V/TO as your guide)?
Are partner roles clearly defined and a good fit?
Are you confident you can freely engage in healthy conflict with your partner(s) to resolve difficult issues?

These questions can help lead you in the right direction – early.

Partnership can be powerful and fulfilling, but do your homework before diving in to prevent a pre-mature break-up.