Blog 129. Business, Money And Your Career: Should You Ever Consider Having A Business Partner?
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Should you ever consider having a business partner?
The short answer is – No.
About 80%, or 4 out of 5 business partnerships fail over time.
This is because no matter what skill a partner has – usually the benefits are never equal. How much money or time each partner is prepared to invest can change. Also, each partner may have their own preferences when it comes to problem solving and each partner may also have different values and this can create further conflict.
This is why when contemplating a partner – caution is required.
Be very very careful. Get advice. Lawyer up. Get a contract signed – that covers every single possible eventuality. Because things can and do go wrong. And even then – stay vigilant. Never put your head in the sand. Because if you do – you will land up paying for it, either emotionally and/or financially.
Sure, every business situation is different, but just like in the beginning of any personal relationship, things can seem exciting and thrilling at first, but things can sometimes turn sour. A partnership may start with two passionate and very eager people, both wanting their business to succeed and make a lot of money. Both may feel that the only way the project or business will ever work – is via a partnership. As a result, they may think that things won’t go wrong. But they can, and often do. This is because professional ties are slightly different to emotional ties.
However, via my own family and indeed via my clients, many whom were/are very successful business owners and so on, made it clear that most partnerships either just don’t work or at some point they’ll hit a crisis. This is often when unexpected issues and feelings emerge, pointing to a rethink. Some partnerships survive but sadly, many may then split or just fail.
It is rare that business partners stay happy for long periods of time. Someone always wants out. Or what they want – might not suit the business or the other partner long term. This usually happens because priorities change and people’s lives change.
Sadly however, the most important bone of contention often lies with money:
1) And often this is because one person lands up working harder than the other. This can create a lot of resentment, especially when one partner takes credit for what the other may have produced, devised or created.
2) The other bone of contention can occur if some kind of fraud or theft has been detected. And this can cause much anger and deep resentment. And in some cases, this can lead to long and protracted lawsuits, leaving no one really happy, no matter what the result turns out to be.
This is why drawing up a partnership with anyone, needs to be carefully considered.
On the other hand if you still insist on entering a partnership:
- Make sure as I suggested early, that you consult a very good lawyer.
- As I have suggested in previous blogs, learn how to listen and start listening and watching right from the start when choosing a partner – because people will tell you either consciously or unconsciously all about themselves. You just have to be prepared to watch and observe.
- Also, it would also be worth getting references, which may prove crucial.
- And try to meet your partner’s previous colleagues or friends which may also help you make an informed choice.
- And remain vigilant – because the alternative can cost you time and money.
And I repeat, things can and do go wrong. Knowing this and if you can, try to find an alternative route. Many who have walked this path have done so with great relief. Many look back realising that they either missed a bullet or what they did next, proved better in the long run.
It is rare that I give such strong advice but unfortunately, I have also witnessed the repercussions and it is never pleasant. It can knock your confidence and it can knock your self-worth especially if the partnership turns ugly.
And by the way, if you were to Google business partnerships, you will find tons of sites that underline partnership problems. Why? Because it is NOT rare for partnerships to fail, and because it is more likely than not to happen.
When couples work together:
Creating a partnership between two people who may be romantically involved and who have similar ideas or a similar focus – can work. But it can involve an enormous amount of discipline – not to take work home. And it can take an enormous amount of discipline, not to take one’s personal life or how a couple relates at home, into the work environment.
It also takes a very special couple, who can work together without friction, and without power and control games entering the relationship.
And when business problems arise as they do, it also takes a special kind of skill to remain in the role of a business or working partner. Often emotional or personal issues can spill over and blur work issues – and this can lead to unnecessary stress and in certain cases embarrassment too.
However, if both or indeed at least one member of the partnership is able to remain level-headed, this can help keep things stay on an even keel. Usually this is made possible, if the members are emotionally secure with who they are as individuals. And if emotional projections between the couple is kept to a minimum this helps reduce arguments and unnecessary strife. Sadly, this is a rare achievement. But not unheard of.
In order to summarise: Before you enter a business partnership (or indeed a marriage as discussed in an early sections), it is worth carefully considering the pros and cons, remembering that if things go wrong, untangling the partnership can be difficult and it can cause a lot of friction which can cost you dearly. Seeking advice from a lawyer is crucial and a step that if missed may cost you dearly.
But as Michael Eisner, an American businessman rather eloquently said, “It is rare to find a business partner who is selfless. If you are lucky – it happens only once in a lifetime.”
So beware – and be very very careful.
© 2020 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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