People know me as the Rescuer of business partnerships. I prefer to prevent the need to be rescued and can do so if I’ve been involved earlier in the game. But I am very good at what I do as the Rescuer.
How does a partnership get to the point of calling SOS?
Over time and for some, even from day one, partners don’t discuss the basics that will not only ensure their relationship but set the tone for the success of the business as time goes on. A business partnership is like a marriage. When you meet someone you are dating for the purpose and in the hope of finding a lifetime partner, you date for awhile before getting engaged. The reason for dating is to see if you want the next date and in the big picture, as you are getting to know this person to find out some very important things. Some of those are do you share the same values, do you have the same vision of how and where you want your lives to look. Do you have personalities that meld? What attitudes and habits do you each have that will work or need adjustment and compromise? What are your attitudes about finances and work? How will you divide the work that needs to be done at home? So before the engagement and wedding plans are made these and much more should be shared until you can be pretty sure you are a match or not.
The search for a business partner is very similar to searching for a spouse. When you find a match in both situations it is only phase one. No, you don’t have to discuss how many children you want and whose house you’ll attend for the holidays, unless your business partner is your spouse. But there are many issues to discover about a potential business partner, maybe even more when it comes to the details. You will probably spend more time with your business partner than with your spouse. So how does all of this lead to me being called upon to rescue many? For whatever reason, potential partners get very excited about the business and each of their skill sets and think that’s enough. They then jump into the “marriage”. The excitement usually lasts through the honeymoon period, but troublesome things are happening. Personality quirks annoy, a bad business decision is made, a disagreement remains unresolved. Rather than face them, the honeymooners prefer to look the other way, shove them under the carpet and avoid the so-called confrontation. Eventually, the annoyances fester into full blown resentment. The avoidance becomes the way of doing business with each other. The decisions unmade early on, the memory of who said what at the outset and the misunderstandings about all of it prevail.
The result of this non-communication with underlying bad feelings affects many people beyond the partners and of course, the bottom line too. If you don’t regularly look at, discuss and plan your business, it cannot be functioning at its highest potential and at the very least money is being left on the table.
Other people affected are employees who pick up on the tension and sometimes take sides without even knowing the issues. Others affected by this scenario are investors, customers and families in a big way. Chances are partners are stressed, angry, and worried, all of which goes home with them. And now the phone call or email comes asking for the rescue.
What I do from our first session is lower the volume of tension and emotion between the partners. If they didn’t let the bad feelings go on beyond repair where they now have one foot on the courthouse steps, but are committed to making it work, I am able to do the rescue. What happens within 1-3 sessions is that we get to the point where they rediscover that they are not so far apart in their desires, dreams, and goals. Using the tools I created for successful partnerships, especially the Business Partnership Agreement Template and the What Ifs Scenarios Handbook we can restart the romance and fill in all of the gaps of discussions and decision making that didn’t occur in the beginning. We then are able to gather the tools of communication, set up an infrastructure and schedule or regular meetings that are en pointe. There are decisions to be made on both the micro and the macro level. Setting it up for the successful continuity the partners want is my job as the Rescuer. And I love my job.