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Business Partner Pitfalls

Business Partner Pitfalls

There are many reasons why entrepreneurs consider having a business partner, including:

  • A lack of skill, confidence, interest or resources to go at it alone.
  • A desire to collaborate with someone who you think would be a good complement.
  • Limited bandwidth to develop or lead the business on your own

While partnerships can certainly be successful, many are faced with challenges and fail. This shouldn’t come as any surprise since nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Like marriage, partnerships can end in “business divorce.” For many small businesses, having a partner is like having a work wife or husband, just without the sex. Partners spend the majority of their time, emotional and physical energy, and resources, together, in the hope of achieving success.

No one gets married expecting it to fail, any more than partners expect their partnerships to fail.

Lessons learned by my clients and colleagues led to my sharing these important considerations with you.

  • Carefully consider the pros and cons of having partners – Could you hire, contract, or collaborate, in any way other than through a partnership?
  • Consider the partner carefully – Longtime friends may be great in personal relationships, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to business. Does this person share your vision and values? While it’s healthy to have complementary communication styles and skills to leverage, alignment of vision and values are critical.
  • Stay in Control – If you decide to enter into a partnership, consider maintaining majority (at least 51%) ownership. Having a 50/50 partnership can leave you with NO control over the partnership. This can translate to a partner collecting half the profits, while doing absolutely nothing; or worse, while they recklessly impact the business! It happens more often than you think. An underperforming 50/50 partnership, without the right agreement in place, can easily cost thousands of dollars and lead to dissolution of the business.
  • Plan to be wildly successful! – Even Apple started in a garage! Undervaluing the potential of your business can lead to unnecessarily giving away tremendous value.

Thinking, planning and structuring matter. Do all the right things for a partnership to be successful AND have the right partnership entity and Buy/Sell Agreement in place from the beginning.

Are You Committed To What You Say You Want?

Are You Committed To What You Say You Want?

You may say that you want things, but are you really committed? It is not uncommon to want something, but just how committed are you to making it happen? And if you are committed, do you have the discipline needed? For some, discipline is intrinsic and for others extrinsic. Know this about yourself. What support might you need to get and stay on track?

Consider this analogy. Billions of dollars are made every year in the health and fitness industry. Let’s look at the fitness clubs as an example. Health clubs are making a fortune selling memberships to well-intentioned people, many of whom never or infrequently workout. Why is this? Not because they like to throw their money out for no reason. It’s because some people, who really, really want to lose weight or get healthy take the step to join a gym and go no further. They are missing adequate commitment and discipline. The industry is making “bank” on those people.

Then, of course, there are members who do show up regularly. Some train themselves, participate in group classes or engage help from a personal fitness trainer.  Some people are very disciplined, while others need more structure, support and even guidance through the process. It is OK, wherever you are, so long as you recognize what you need and get it.  You may find that you are very committed and disciplined in certain areas of your life and not in others. 

For any area of your life that you want to experience remarkable results, take an honest assessment of your commitment, discipline, and support in place towards meeting your objectives.

What Did You Do?!

What Did You Do?!

Reading this headline, what came up for you? Did you think you were in trouble? Perhaps you reflected on a childhood memory? While that is one interpretation that many can relate to, the context in which I ask this question is to cause you to take a celebratory look back at what you have accomplished.Executives are quick to point out all the things they “have to do.” However, many find it difficult to acknowledge all the great things they have already done.

Focusing only on what is left to do can evoke disappointment, frustration and at times defeat. Instead, if you start with acknowledging an accomplishment and then build on that momentum, you are drawing from a positive experience. Having a positive set point will carry over into the next thing you do.

Also, consider your language when referring to your “have dos,” aka “haftas.” When we think or speak of our “have tos” we imply conflict and negativity. I’ve been addressing that simple distinction for years, which seems to be supported by a recent article by Shana Lebowitz, Business Insider, February 6, 2016, “A Stanford professor says eliminating 2 phrases from your vocabulary can make you more successful.”

The article cites research on the use of certain words, including “have to” suggesting it be replaced with the words “want to.”

Instead of the more typical pressure filled approach to things you want to accomplish, try acknowledging something you’ve already achieved and then build on it with your “want tos.”

For example, I acknowledge that I’ve successfully completed the chapter outline for the book I’m writing and I want to write a complete chapter within 30 days.

How about you? What did you do? What do you want to do next?



Allison S. Tabor, CPC

Executive Coach, Consultant & Facilitator