Partnership Problem: Planning

Strategy:  Make it a joint effort.

In any business planning takes place as a result of decisions made after information is gathered. When it’s a partnership input needs to come from all partners. Call upon the strengths of each partner to bring important facts and options to the planning table.

Gather all pertinent information, come up with your thoughts and sit down with your partner to compare notes. By having all information available, you will be able to make informed decisions. There will be fewer surprises down the road. Making decisions on timely, pertinent information is the key to a successful outcome.

Make sure your plan specifies who will carry out what actions and by what time. That way there’s no confusion about who was responsible for what. A plan isn’t complete until you assess the results at the end of the period originally specified. Your plan is your framework for action. After taking the planned action, you want to know if it produced the desired results. If it did, you may want to continue doing what you’ve been doing or take the next step. If it did not, you’ll probably want to change your plan, and perhaps your strategy as well.

Include in your plan, or make it a policy, how you will handle partnership issues when they arise, so that addressing them will seem less daunting. If you do not currently have such a plan in place, speak to your business partner about creating one.  For simple problem resolution and decision making this will suffice.  For more complex issues that may affect the structure of the company, positions held, or share ownership you will want to discuss the formation of a plan with a good business attorney.

Whether you are just starting out or been in business for years, don’t put it off any longer.  Plan to plan and plan to review and update your plan based on what you learn from your post plan assessment.  For more details and a list of some plans you may need, you can check out my Business Success Articles.

Partnership Problem: Waning Interest

Strategy: Re-focus on the motivators.

One of the worst things that can happen to a partnership is for one partner to feel that the unique and enterprising business idea and opportunity is no longer worth it. It can usually be recognized by excuses such as not having enough time or being overly busy or stressed. This may be a sign that the partner has other interests outside the business or something that pulls their attention away from the business.

If this happens, talk about it. It may sound simple, but discussing the observations can be one of the most effective ways to solving this problem. There will be a reason why they have lost interest, so try to find out why and see what you can do to change things. Be open and willing to listen.  When the communication is not flowing freely try reminiscing about why you started the business, review some positive client feedback, or discuss the motivators that sparked the initial thoughts about starting the business.  In most cases, such motivators (like making money, helping others, sharing one’s expertise, not having a boss, etc.) hasn’t changed; the perception as to how they relate to the business is what has changed.  The objective in the discussion is for the partners to develop a strategic plan to help stay focused on the motivators.

Sometimes this problem needs more insight.  Your business, your motivation, your ability to succeed can always benefit from an outside perspective.  Such support and coaching cannot only renew the passion, but can help with keeping it going through the next slump.  Having experience working with a variety of partnerships has given me a unique understanding of partnership dynamics. See the Partnerships section on the Business Success Articles page for more information on managing your partnership. And if you’d like help in coming together to refocus on the motivators, send me a message on the Contact Page and select the Subject Partner Coaching.

Partnership Problem: Unforeseen Situations

Strategy: Plan to talk and talk the plan!

Most people, who start a business, know they can’t plan for every problem. As a solo entrepreneur they either have to resolve the situation alone or ask for outside help.  In a partnership the problem strategy needs to be regularly scheduled meetings to not only talk about business in general, but to use the time to also discuss problems and concerns.

But what about the problems that occur on a daily basis?  This is the best time to cash in on the perks of partnership!

There are going to be problems that need immediate answers… like disgruntled customers, shipping problems, etc.  Regardless of which partner or employee handled the issue, even if the outcome was less than desired, there must be transparency and detailed communication about the problem. Emotions come into play when things seem a bit out of control, so this needs to be kept in mind when opening discussion on an issue. Regardless of the field or industry, policies are needed to make certain every problem gets handled in a way that gets best results.

If you find your partner resisting or “forgetting” about these critical opportunities to communicate with each other, I’d suggest you take command of the situation and create a plan for operations the way you believe is best. Present it to your partner for discussion. You will find more interest in such a meeting.

In addition to these regular strategy meetings, having a planned “go to” list of who best can solve which kind of problems, will help resolve problems more quickly and with better outcomes.

Sometimes it’s helpful to get an outside perspective on problem resolution.  Asking for help or ideas is never a sign of weakness; in fact it shows how dedicated you are to the business getting to the top!  I specialize in working with one or more partners to put them in command of their partnership and their business. My mission is to help you and your partnership business succeed.  Read more Partnership articles on the Prime Strategies blog.  

Partnership Problem: Unmet Expectations

Strategy: Communicate

Any partnership suffers when expectations are not being met.

Partnerships work when all partners focus on the same business goals, while also working toward their own personal goals. Each partner uses his strengths to build and support the business. Each feels that his personal expectations are met, and is accountable for meeting agreements with the other partners.

If you don’t already know, find out what your partner expects from you.   Share your expectations as well. Have a plan for when personal or business circumstances or interests change so, when needed, expectations can be readdressed.

It’s important for each partner to know his own motivation, to know and be clear about what he expects from each partner and from the partnership overall. While the vision for the business should be the same for all partners, expectations may be quite different for each partner. When expectations are not met, it’s a set up for negative feelings. The earlier communication can take place, the sooner the issue can be resolved.

We all know that not every business partnership works out in the end. No matter how enterprising the idea or business, there are times when business plans and partnerships do fail. Making a partnership work requires tenacity, dedication and creativity.

Regular meetings to discuss business are the ideal way to keep the lines of communication open. Meetings focused on plans, strategies, expectations, reporting and accountability may not be the most glamorous part of business; but they will keep you focused on what’s important for success.  Even after months or years of success, such meetings need to continue to make sure timely communication takes place and disagreements do not become the basis for a partnership failure.

Above all, know when to ask for help.  Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it IS a sign of your commitment to your business and your customers.  When failing isn’t an option, but you are uncertain on what to do next, I’m here to help.

Partnership: Potential for Success

Partnership Potential Success photoMany of the top companies today were started and grew as partnerships.  Among the Internet online giants Twitter, Yahoo, eBay, and Google were all started with partnerships.  And in many of these cases they were people who were at odds with each other.  Once they looked past the differences they found that each complemented the other.  For them such a union could make the process of birthing their dream, easier, better, and faster.  They saw their partnership as potential for success.

Some of the largest tech companies have also started as partnerships.  Intel, Apple, Hewlett Packard, and Microsoft are such examples.  In many cases the way partners complement each other doesn’t have to be about the creation and launch of a product or service.  Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard worked together on many things, but they feel that the working atmosphere they created in their company was what helped it become as large as it did.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry’s started out as friends with a passion for food and a $5 course on ice-cream making.  But many say their real success came from their agreement on becoming a socially and environmentally aware business. Their focus went beyond the company profits.

These are only a few examples of highly profitable and worldwide recognized companies that have started as partnerships.  When you read the histories of these icons, you see that many partners did not get along; in fact some even today are not amicable.  Yet they worked on success by focusing on their product or service, their clients, their employees, and their industry.  Success was a byproduct.

If you’re struggling with your partner or your partnership, can you set aside your differences and see the big picture with the understanding that your partner is a unique benefit for your endeavor?  If not, feel free to contact me for help in sorting through the issues.

Help! I Want to Dissolve my Partnership

A client, we’ll call her Susan, had a business that was struggling financially and operationally. She was totally disgusted because her partner of 10 years was no longer carrying his weight and didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. She was so stressed she was seriously considering liquidating the business if things couldn’t be changed for the better in a very short time.

What to do? Her first commitment had to be to herself. Susan was able to realize that it was up to her to take command of this situation. She was coached to create some measurable goals with time frames. She decided she wanted to give the business and her partner one last chance. Susan knew she must bring her partner, and eventually her staff, into the picture in order to get their buy-in.

She created Job Roles for herself, her partner and each of her staff (Office Manager, Buyer and 2 Salesmen). Because of the longstanding relationship between her and her partner, we agreed it was best if I met with the partner and her to present things up to this point. Preparing for this was anxiety-producing for Susan, but also liberating. NOTE: Using a third party (like a coach or consultant) can offer a different perspective to a known problem. [Read more…]

The Partnership Model for Growth and Profit

If you’re thinking a partnership is a business with one or more equity owners, you’re absolutely correct. But the terms partner and partnership have a much broader meaning in usage. Read or listen to the business news and you’ll hear lots about business partnerships. Businesses large and small are growing through partnerships.

Dallas Business Journal reports, “American Airlines has forged a three-year marketing partnership with National Football League’s New England Patriots.”

Reuters states, “Jamie Kennedy partners with Yoostar ™ to create original viral content and launch the Yoostar Comedy Channel”

Wall Street Journal announces, “Google and SpotMixer expand partnership to include In-Stream video advertising. [Read more…]

How Do I Find the Right Business Partner?

Having a business partner presents a complex mix of interpersonal and business issues, and both need to be addressed for it to work.

If your primary interest is having someone to brainstorm with and to help your business move forward, there may be other options besides a partner. A consultant or coach may be able to fill that role. In that case you’d have the benefit of an objective dedicated mind but would still make the final decisions.

Likewise, if additional capital is needed now, there may be alternatives to giving away your hard-earned equity. Debt is usually preferable to equity unless the partner can add significant value to your business. If an equity partner can open a sizable new market, take on critical responsibility or provide access to valuable resources, it may be worth serious consideration.

Base your decision to have a partner on sound logic and reasoning. Be careful of just wanting to dump responsibility on anyone who will agree.

The purpose of the partnership should be clear in your own mind first. Then you’re ready to determine the qualities and assets a potential partner would bring. A partnership is usually a long term arrangement, so think long and hard as to whether or not you’re ready for that level of commitment.

If you believe that a partner is right for you, you must select very carefully. Here is the approach I would take.

Start with your own strengths. [Read more…]

How Can I Fix My Business Partnership?

I’ve found there are lots of people in a long standing business partnership who are not satisfied with the status of the relationship. They may feel stuck, frustrated, angry…or all of these. They know they’ve been silent far too long, but just don’t know what to do.

What can cause such a change in a relationship that started out with high hopes and good feelings?

Here are some of the situations I see most often. Do any of these apply to your partnership?

One partner feels like he’s carrying the bulk of the workload.

This may have happened because there wasn’t an agreement about who would do what. Job roles, responsibilities and accountability have not been discussed.

Expectations are not being met. [Read more…]

7 Tips for a Business Partnership That Works

Business partnerships take on a variety of forms. They may be a long term formal legal commitment or a simple short term venture to test a market concept. The same principles apply in all cases.

Here are 7 tips to make sure the partnership starts strong and stays strong.

1 – Start by creating a shared Vision & Mission

As in any business, it’s critical for the partners to define the Vision and Mission of the venture as the very first step. If all brains aren’t going in the same direction in the same way, problems are bound to arise.

The motives for each partner can be different. The overall objectives and methods, however, need to be the same.

Tom chose to partner with Dominic because each saw the market need for a commercial kitchen facility. Tom was a commercial contractor who had worked on restaurants and catering facilities. Dominic was Manager of a cooking school and well connected within the food preparation industry. Their Vision was a 2,000 sq. ft. facility that would have 3 shifts of production, serve as a test kitchen for the cooking school and contract with other long term and project clients.

Tip: Take time to discuss your company’s Vision and Mission with your partners. Look for what energizes and motivates each of you about your business. Give it a purpose and define what the ideal business will look like. Put the joint Vision and Mission in writing and use it as the reference for everything else you do. [Read more…]