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This Blog provides tips and ideas from Partnership Relationship Expert, Dr. Dorene Lehavi and on occasion from one of her guest bloggers.  Learn how to maximize your chances for success by choosing the right partner, setting a strong foundation and much more.

Prevent the High Cost of Staying at Odds With Your Business Partner

Are you avoiding meeting with your business partner? When you do, is there a lot of tension where everyone is left feeling angry or frustrated? Even more importantly, when you have those conversations, do you leave with nothing accomplished and no decisions made? There is increasing damage to your business by having this continuous conflict with each other. The solution? Focus on the business – rather than yourselves and your issues with each other. To some, this might seem impossible, but it is a necessary change – unless you are ready to face your exit strategy and leave your business while hostile. The costs to ending a business are enormous – financial losses, legal costs, and emotional stress will all take a toll. When a business ends this way, it is not just the partners that suffer the loss – it is everyone from the partners’ families, employees, clients, vendors and even the community. By focusing on the business and checking your egos at the door – you are able to make sound, responsible decisions that are important to the success and profitability of your business. As an expert on the relationship between business partners, I suggest to my clients that they take the personal emotion and feelings out of these conversations. Easier said than done. There are conversations that are difficult to have on your own and this may be one of them. This is precisely the time to engage an expert business partnership coach to help you have those difficult conversations. A coach will serve as an independent third party guiding you to lower the emotional volume,... read more

MYTH: BUSINESS PARTNERS NEED COMPLEMENTARY SKILLS

It’s a myth that you and your choice of the right business partner should have complementary skills. I agree it can be a good thing, but it is not a requirement and sometimes it might take you into a bad partnership if you hold it as high priority criteria. Bottom line, it is not even necessary. Both Ellen and Sandy had the same design and marketing skills. They met in school where they were studying the same thing. They became close friends and had the same idea for a business. They worked so well together not just creating, but brainstorming new ideas and new ways to operationalize and market them.   The results are that their products are growing in sales in stores across the country and they enjoy their partnership relationship. In their case “two heads are better than one”. One plus one is greater than the sum of two. Of course, a business, depending on its size needs the additional skills of handling technology, finances, manufacturing, equipment, employees, vendors, etc. Usually even partners who have complementary skills still have some areas which none of them know how to do. They either take it upon themselves to learn or they hire others from the outside as employees or consultants, such as lawyers and accountants, sub-contractors, such as IT experts, designers, marketers and others to do the missing tasks. Other common examples of business partners who share the same skill sets are lawyers, real estate agents, accountants, doctors, dentists, therapists, online technology companies and many others. In all of these situations, it becomes necessary to find people on the outside... read more

HOW TO AVOID BORING MEETINGS WITH YOUR BUSINESS PARTNER

My article posted on Feb. 3, about the pitfalls of partners not meeting regularly http://www.bizpartnerpro.com/what-happens-to-business-partnerships-when-partners-dont-have-meetings/ brought in comments about boredom, wasted time, and not getting anything significant done. Yet I still hold firm to the importance of meeting regularly. The call I most often receive from endangered partnership relationships is from one of them complaining that “My partner is not doing all he said he would and I’m doing all the work”. I know immediately that they haven’t been meeting. You may think you don’t have enough to talk about. Today’s article is about topics that need to be addressed at meetings to make them worthwhile, interesting and inspiring, and where essentials get accomplished. The agenda will depend on where you are in your partnership and the state of the business. Many successful partnerships touch base every day to be on the same page with the activities for that day, although each will likely be addressing different areas, such as meeting with a client or dealing with payroll.   Touching base even for a few minutes every day seems to be a cornerstone for success in many partner owned businesses. Weekly meetings are essential to discuss day to day and month to month running of the business. Decide upon the frequency which you discuss each topic and create clear agendas. Schedule extra meetings if needed. Conduct the meetings with respect for each other’s time. Keep an open mind by listening well, clarifying what someone else is saying and give serious consideration to points of view other than your own. Not in any specific order following is a list of suggested topics... read more

How Many Meetings Should Business Partners Have?

It is not surprising that meetings have a bad name among business partners and in businesses in general. Much too often, not a lot gets accomplished. They are boring, time consuming and sometimes emotions take over when disagreements come up. And yet, as a coach to businesses I insist that partners meet on a regular schedule and also with their teams Partners who do not have regular ongoing scheduled meetings to clarify, plan and strategize are jeopardizing their very partnership and the business. What I know as a fact, when partners and departments within a business don’t talk to each other, at the very least, money is left on the table and eventually I get the call to rescue a dying partnership relationship.   Tad and Jonathan were ready to quit when they called me.   Each accused the other of not doing the work they promised to do.   I know when I receive this typical call, they are not meeting  to discuss the business. Each one is doing whatever he thinks he should and views the other as the problem when things don’t seem to work. It is mind boggling to hear the difference in the picture each described of where they were and where they were going. As they worked separately without consulting each other, the space between their individual perceptions was widening. Facilitating the difficult conversation between them where I taught them to actually listen to each other they were amazed that they were having a conversation and not yelling. That brought them to the realization that their basic original desires and dreams for this business were still the... read more

How Do You Network?

Are those LI invitations to connect from people who are offering their services, the best way to network online? My reaction to them is an automatic “no thank you”. I find that the introduction is followed by a sales pitch including an offer to continue the conversation or receive some freebie. But what is missing is the lack of regard to who I am or what I might need. Although they each describe the sender’s business, they are obviously canned and I toss them quickly. When they first began to come into my mailbox I actually agreed to speak to a couple of LI members who’s product intrigued me. We spent a ½ hour on the phone and this time they did listen somewhat. I even made a referral in one case and know from the person I referred became a client. The LI member never let me know or thought to say thank you. Big mistake. When I find out that this “networking” is viewed as a one way street, I drop out of the game. The last one I spoke to, when we ended by his asking me for referrals and I suggested he might remember me as well, his suggestion was that I could fill out the profile in the group we share membership. If all of this sounds like complaints, that is not my purpose here. I am simply appealing to everyone to learn about proper networking to make it worthwhile for you and for everyone. Many people have the idea that the purpose to networking is selling. The quickest way to lose my attention,... read more

A 2016 Perspective on Limited Liability Partnerships

Your limited liability partnerships are not on firm ground if you haven’t done some basics at the outset to know you are a good match. Unfortunately, partnership startups feeling the pinch of finances, too often ignore some initial investments that could save a lot of misery and financial loss down the line. Having an A team of advisors including legal, financial, coach/mentor is very wise and cost effective. Isn’t your dream worth it? It was not surprising, although a long time coming, to read the 12/25/15 article in the LATimes titled Helping start-up leaders keep it together. The subtitle was more telling. A growing number of tech firm co-founders turn to therapists to resolve conflicts. Limited Liability Partnerships As a former therapist and coach to business partners for about 25 years, I have seen over and over again that the reason for the 70% failure rate of business partnerships could be reversed if the partnership had started on the right foot so to speak. The main point at the outset is not to be so eager for a partner that you are willing to overlook red flags. The red flags have to do with you not being a good match in the first place. Maybe your values, workstyles, personal vision, and much more render you incompatible. Or maybe you are a good match but because you haven’t talked about every aspect of the business, your values, vision, division of responsibility and much more (spelled out in BPAT) you set yourself up for trouble. The need for “therapy” or partnership coaching and the willingness to engage in it hopefully, at... read more

How A Ballroom Dance Lesson Can Grow Your Business

Do you ever stop to think about the effect your demeanor and your physical presence has on others?  Some lessons I learned for business and life came from my ballroom dance lessons including the one that answers that question.     I started the lessons with a history of being a serious non-dancer. I was uncomfortable on the dance floor and the phrase “two left feet” came into being to describe me as did the term “wallflower” during my teen years. However, in my fourth decade I got hooked on ballroom dancing and never considered stopping until I broke my foot 15 years later. Another story. In the beginning as a non-dancer, I lacked awareness not just about how to dance, but about my physical presence.  Having never been into sports, ever, and finding every excuse not to be, I tried various programs because it was “the thing” to do to stay healthy and fit. Having tried yoga, jazzersize, stretching, bought a stationery bike, a treadmill, and weight lifting, and didn’t stick with any of them for very long. Then I discovered ballroom dancing and became totally addicted to it.    I lucked out with an excellent teacher who expected excellence from his students.  One of the first things Jerry taught me was when his hand extended to invite me to dance, was to pay attention to how I was approaching him. I was like a bulldozer bumping into his chest and almost knocking him over rather than gracefully inserting myself into his appropriately positioned arms.   He told me that a lot of women do this unwittingly and... read more

How A Solo Entrepreneur Can Enjoy the Benefits of a Business Partnership

Having met and spoken with many successful partnerships, it is clear that there are some basics they all agree upon. Partnership is like a marriage. As in a good marriage there are many aspects to a good partnership that enrich the lives of each partner. When the relationship between them functions well it is reflected in many ways from happy employees, things getting done, satisfied customers and ultimately the level of success of the business itself. Here are some of the benefits that most partners agree upon: •You have someone to share the responsibility and the risk. •You have a built in sounding board. •Clients and customers benefit from having more than one head at the helm. • Work is shared. •Someone holds you accountable. •Relationship is deep because of shared values, respect and trust. •Each cares about the welfare of the other and is there to back up or fill in when needed. •They don’t count the hours each puts in. They do what is needed. •Good partnerships are harmonious, even fun and when there are the inevitable conflicts or disagreements, because of the value placed on the relationship and the mutual goals, they are resolved in a way that is acceptable to each. Sometimes that means that one person overlooks or does the greater compromising. It is done in the spirit of “what I get from this is worth it”…..keeping the big picture in mind. For all the benefits it is still far better to work as a solo rather than be matched with an ill-suited partner. The cost of a failed partnership is astronomical and can take... read more

How Do You Rate as a Listener in Business and in Your Personal Life?

We hear a lot about the need to improve our communication skills.  Based on what you think you have said and what the person you said it to hears is often different.   Speaking the same language doesn’t ensure the same meaning.  The difference may be subtle, but the follow up behaviors or actions or emotions that were ignited could be anywhere from incorrect to disastrous.   Many misunderstandings in business and personal relationships result in damage to those relationships or wrong actions taken affecting business.  They could be avoided if we all committed to becoming better listeners by embracing the notion that our way is not always the best or only way.   Here are some tips on how to become a better listener:   • Get rid of the idea that you have to be right. If you have an investment in  being right, you have already closed down your ability to hear. Besides if you are always right that means the other person is always wrong. Does that really compute? • Listen with an open mind. There are a lot of other ideas and perspectives out there. Many of them are good and some may be better than yours. • Repeat back what you have heard to make sure you have clearly understood what was said. • Forget about preparing your response. Respond after you listened well. There is nothing wrong with taking your time. • Express your own point of view and feelings honestly and with respect for the listener. These skills take discipline and practice. Change your mind set from win-lose to win-win. Think in terms of shared goals, mutual respect teamwork, accommodation and compromise. • Suspend the habit... read more
business partnership essentials


Dear Dr. Lehavi:

I just completed your book on “Business Partnership Essentials: A Step-by-Step Action Plan for Succeeding in Business With a Partner”. Your book is a must read for anyone thinking about going into a business partnership, and it’s a must read for existing partners who want to maintain good partnership relations. The book is also a good manual for lawyers who want a roadmap and checklist for advising partnership clients on how to keep a good partnership going and how to look for signs that indicate that something may be wrong.

Thank you for sharing. I have already recommended your book to two people. More recommendations are forthcoming.

Respectfully,

Demetri Chambers, Esq.

Dr. Lehavi's book Joy Breaks