Finding a business partner may seem hard, but finding your rhythm with your business partner is much harder.
Although I’ve worked with the same business partner for over ten years now, it took us a few years to find our rhythm. Sure, things are great between us, and both of us are extremely happy, but it wasn’t easy for us to get to where we are today.
I watched many other business partners try to work it out together, but in most cases they fail. It’s not because of hard work, money or their smarts… it’s because they are afraid of the following:
Reason #1: Confrontation
People are afraid to confront one and another. I don’t know why, but this is the number one reason my business partner and I do so well with each other. If we feel that either of us is screwing up, we call each other on it.
We don’t care if we hurt each other’s feelings. We say what is on our minds. Why? Because we both want to succeed and do what is best for the business. So if one of us is holding back the business or doing something wrong, we make sure we point it out.
If you are too afraid to tell your business partner how you feel, you won’t be able to make your partnership work.
Reason #2: Communication
Without communication, nothing is going to get done. Not only should you and your partner communicate on a regular basis, but you should over-communicate.
Talk with each other on a regular basis, find problems within the company and try to solve them together.
What I’ve learned is that excessive communication also helps keep both of you motivated. You will come up with ideas, get excited about what you are doing and have fun working together.
Reason #3: Roles
You and your partner shouldn’t be doing the same thing within the company, especially when you are starting out. You won’t have enough cash to hire other people, so you need to focus on solving different problems.
In other words, you need to divide and conquer. Typically, my business partner deals with product and engineering, and I deal with all things related to revenue. Where we overlap is in the area of marketing and strategy.
Make sure you clearly define who is going to work on what so you aren’t stepping on each other’s toes.
Reason #4: Time
You can’t expect to create a perfect partnership within a few weeks, months or even a year. It will take you at least a few years to figure out how each of you works and to evolve into your roles.
You will also realize that things change over time. When I first started working with my business partner, I was the technical one, and he was the business guy. Today, we both understand business really well, but he focuses more on the technical side, while I focus on the business side. In other words, we’ve kind of switched roles.
Time will also heal a lot of problems you are facing. When money is rolling in, things usually aren’t too bad. But when it stops coming in, problems arise. With time, you’ll learn how to work things out and create a happy partnership.
Reason #5: Life goals
Although personal life goals shouldn’t affect a partnership, they actually do. If your goal is to live a relaxed lifestyle on the beach while your partner wants to work seven days a week in the office, things aren’t going to work out.
One of you will feel that the other isn’t pulling his or her weight, and it will eventually create a lot of problems.
If your goals in life are aligned with your partner’s, it will help keep the peace. The reason my partner and I do so well together is because we both love working seven days a week, and all we want to do is build a big business. Neither of us has any other hobbies in life, other than our business.
Before you partner up with anyone, make sure you have similar life goals… especially when it comes to work.
Reason #6: Friendship
You may disagree with me on this one, but your business partner shouldn’t be your best friend. You need time apart, and you need to have your own group of friends. If you are with your partner every single day, eventually you will get sick of hanging around him/her.
You want to have your own circle of friends because it will give you more space. Plus, it will help you improve the business because your business partner will learn different things from his/her friends versus what you learn from yours.
You can then combine the knowledge you’ve both gained and work on growing your business.
Reason #7: Execution
I’ve found that some partners love to talk to each other and strategize on a daily basis. But they lack in one thing: execution. If neither of you can execute, things won’t work out long-term.
Focus your time and energy on getting stuff done because you need to feel like there is a sense of accomplishment. If you don’t, you will start pointing fingers at each other.
Reason #8: Emotions
Emotions tend to get the best of all of us. When someone calls you out or places blame on you, it is natural for you to argue and fight back.
You can’t get emotional with your business partner; you need to be logical. When something is wrong, take a step back and look at it from an outsider’s perspective. Figure out what the logical response would be and take that approach.
At the end of the day you both will do what you feel is best for the company, so there is no need to get emotional. Emotions won’t help you accomplish your goals; they will just cloud your judgment.
I hope one day you’ll be able to find as great of a business partner as I’ve found. Sure, things won’t be perfect when you are starting out, but if you give it a few years and work through the things I mentioned above, you will be able to create a happy partnership.
So, for what other reasons do most business partnerships fail?