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: 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.

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…]

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…]

Common Partnership Challenges

I’ve had one official business partnership during my coaching and consulting career. I met Barbara (alias) in 2001 through a women’s business organization. We didn’t really know each other well but we both thought creating a partnership to offer “personal branding services” would benefit each of us. I would provide the system, she would provide communications and presentation training. To round out our offering we decided to contract with an image consultant. We had a very thin written agreement that mainly stated we were equal partners. We agreed we would put together a personal branding program that we would package and market through our mutual networks.

Unfortunately, Barbara had no network. I assumed she had one, but I didn’t think to ask before we shook hands. She looked to me to create the program, develop the marketing and get people to sign up. Plus I had the business background, so she figured I should handle the books also. After being in business only about nine months, Barbara’s husband became suddenly ill and she had to take care of him round the clock. We decided to dissolve the partnership. Obviously it was headed for eventual problems, so it’s fortunate we had another reason to disband. [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 provider for 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…]