In starting a business, many would consider having a partner as necessary, helpful and a way to allow you more opportunity further down the line. You’ll find that costs are shared and will find it easier to navigate through rough times with a trustworthy companion.
But, does it really make life easier?
Quite honestly, I’d beg to differ.
Maybe I’ll rub you the wrong way, but I couldn’t really care less.
I’ve come to find that in the 8+ years of experience coaching business owners, there is far too much time spent on dealing with partner-related issues, instead of focusing enough energy on growth and strategy in the business.
You Don’t Rush Into Marriage – So Why Would You Do It In A Partnership?
Sure, there are definitely a whole lot of benefits that you could find in starting a business with a partner, but they tend to be very surface-level; you eventually find the pool runs extremely deep and you’re only just learning how to swim.
I cannot even fathom the amount of conversations I have as a coach around business owners having to deal with pesky partners – it’s both scary and hilarious acting as a sort of marriage counsellor to clients that have to deal with this.
There are so many issues brought up, it’s almost not even funny.
When partners don’t pull their own weight and the burden is left on only one capable individual; when partners get paid high salaries, without a certain level of responsibility and accountability; when partners’ spouses get involved and make life unbearable for everyone else – it can often be a bitch to deal with a bitch.
More often than not, having a partner – sometimes two – ends up being a burden on the most involved business owner. Going in with the idea that 1+1= 3, is hardly ever the case. That addition of a partner doesn’t always necessarily result in better outcomes.
If you’re looking at it from the perspective of comfort, then get a damn business coach (like me), or find yourself a husband or a wife; all the comfort you need can be found there without the risk of an unpredictable ally.
People often rush into taking on a partnership without stopping to think about the future and the possible repercussions. You wouldn’t just find someone and then marry them from the get-go, would you? You would take the time, get to know them, discover their vices and develop a lasting relationship before getting down on one knee.
Why, then, do people rush into partnerships, only to find resentment further down the line. It just ends in a nasty divorce, filled with resentment.
1+1 ≠ 2. It Just Doesn’t.
When starting a business, you should employ the skills that you require versus partnering with them. There are often situations where it might be a bit expensive to pay for a particular skill that is required, so the business owner will cut costs by offering shares, instead.
This is a very dangerous mistake.
There comes the quick realisation that great skill doesn’t necessarily translate to a great partner. They often don’t go hand-in-hand and that’s why it’s far easier to employ the required skills to do the work.
It needs to be said that separating ownership from employment is vital to a better working system – just because a particular skill is provided, it doesn’t mean that you should be paid a high salary; the skills provided and offered should be an indicator of the profit you get to pocket.
I’ve also found that one of the biggest losses that come with the decision to partner-up is that of freedom. Your freedom is the perceived option of choice and partners tend to pluck those choices away from you. Leaving you with little, or no leverage when it’s absolutely essential.
In losing some of that freedom, you don’t always take on just the partner, but also their spouse. A husband, or wife of a partner can wreak complete havoc on the business in bringing personal issues to the equation.
Jealousy often comes up (“why does he get to drive that car and you don’t?”); or even vengeance can play a role (a partner is caught-up in an affair and gets caught, now there’s money being siphoned from the company to pay for silence and to save their reputation). Oh, sweet blackmail.
So many things can go wrong and often do.
I believe that ownership is everything. Having ownership means better control and ease of leveraging when it’s required; employees are far easier to make decisions around, where partners – and even minority partners – make it difficult.
Sometimes, Just Sometimes, It’s Forgivable To Partner-Up
In going against what I’m preaching, I do find that there are specific conditions that warrant the use of a partner. Although I’m primarily against having a partner when running a business, I do believe that sometimes (only sometimes) it’s forgivable to work together with one.
There are certain provisions that need to be made and specific things that need to be adhered to when making the commitment of partnering up.
Get your pen and paper ready; write this down.
So in certain cases like Sergey Brin and Larry Page, or Wozniak and Jobs, you’ll sometimes find that the right partnerships can exist. Which can produce massive results and skyrocket you way past the stratosphere.
When looking for the right partner, then you need to find a polar-opposite in skills, to complement both of your abilities. If you’re creative and a designer, then seek to partner up with someone that has an MBA, or who’s involved in law; with an analytical skill set that can help in the decision making, or vice versa.
You need someone that you work well with to divide and conquer the business, have separate roles and responsibilities and both have a keen desire to grow the business to the best of your abilities.
It CAN be advantageous to have the opportunity to go on holiday from time to time with the comfort of a partner that has the company’s best interests at heart – one that would be able to run things smoothly if either one of you had to be away for whatever the reason.
However, I will say that it isn’t easy to find a perfect match; Cupid doesn’t waste any time on business partnerships, he’s got his own industry to run.
So you can walk away from this red in the face with rage, because you’ve already made the mistake of finding an insignificant other, or you can heed my warning and be very careful about taking on the tremendous risk of a partner.
They might act as a band-aid, but might also be infected; waiting to give you gangrene.
Dealing with these relationships can be quite difficult, so if you’re in need of some partnership counselling and more perspective from somebody who’s seen this far too many times, someone who has sound advice: I’m a ring, or email away:
+2783 253 3339