Growing in a Partnership

This topic came to me as a result of a question I got for my BLITZ Entrepreneur Club Q&A call this month and I thought I would share it with you too.

The Question

My client asked, “I have a partner in my business. I am really excited to do new things and have more products to sell but my partner doesn’t want to change or invest. What should I do?

The Answer

A partnership is like a marriage. You started out madly in-love with your business idea, excited to create something new together, and happy to have found the person that will share this adventure with you. As you, your partner, and your business grows and changes there is always the chance that you will not grow in the same direction. Here are three steps you should start with to help evaluate where you started, what you have, and where you are going, before you make a decision as to your partnership.

Handshake

 Agreement

Start by looking back at your initial partnership agreement. By revisiting where you initially thought you were going with your business you may discover the spark that lead your partner into the business in the first place.

  • Did you state roles and responsibilities? What were your roles and responsibilities when you started? Are you still in charge of those responsibilities?

If your partner never had a clear idea of where they fit in the business or they are still doing the same mundane things then boredom or frustration may have replaced excitement for your partner, who now may not see her role as important or valuable.

Business Successes

Look at your original business plan, particularly the cash flow section and compare it to your current business plan. You want to get an idea of what you have built and where it is going.

  • Identify the successes you have had in your business. What is in your near future – Growth or Decline? What are you forecasting for the next year?

You want a clear picture of what you expect your business future to look like if nothing changes. This way you will have better insight into what your partner is holding on to or hoping for.

Know Your Goals

Write out what it is that you hope to see happen in the business. Identify what is different from your initial partnership agreement and what is different from your business plan.

  • You need to know what it is that you want.

If it is significantly different than what you agreed on creating with your partner, knowing this will give you insight into why your partner is not ‘on-board’ with your direction.

Talk and Decide

You need to start a dialogue of change. Go over the information you have gathered. Get your partner to voice their concerns and their goals. Find out what would make them really happy and excited again in the business.

Maybe the forecast of the business shows that at your current rate you will not survive another 6 months. Maybe you are not happy with your initial partnership and you need a change from it. Maybe you need to rewrite your agreement or your business plan. OR Maybe you need to be doing something completely different and separate from your partner.

You will need to use this conversation to identify all the opportunities and options available to you and your partner and then you have to make a decision on what action you will take.

One thing I know for sure is that if you are not both moving in the same direction, with purpose, your business will suffer, so take the time to get re-aligned. You may need to hire a mediator to help you review the information together and come to an understanding for the future of your business.

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