Back in the late 80’s early 90’s I though I knew what a partnership was but found out very quickly I had no clue. I had started a company with 2 of my best friends at the time. We thought we had the world by the tail. Little did we know we had no idea what we were doing and worse we had not idea who we were. It costs a couple of friends and a little money but the lessons were invaluable.
We all have heard the term partnership before and think we understand what a partnership is right.
Here is the definition of partner: “a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits.”
So why is it we so often invite our friends and family to join us in ventures?
Is it because we are afraid to go it alone, to bring in strangers, or want reassurance that our idea is good? The answer to that is yes, YES, and YES!!
So after decades of business experience, many mistakes I just wanted to let people in on a strategy in creating partnerships I learned from VC’s who invested multiple millions into companies I have started.
So here is what a partner is not:
Lets look at each of these a little closer in depth and see why these in particular do not work as partners.
First your friend/family member(FF): A FF is a person who has shared likes and dislikes as you do. It is a person you like to hang out with, want to go to the ball game with, and in some ways may be like you. Or they are family members who know your weaknesses and or past that will always distract from the business at hand. This makes making tough decisions tougher, feelings get in the way of business, relationships are hurt, taking time to heal, or forever gone over a business disagreement.
Second is your boss: Did you start a company only to have another boss? Again this is a challenge as your bringing people into your team to follow your dream, you sold them on your dream and what you want to do but at the same time need to be equals as far as making decisions. You each should recognize the strength and weakness of the others and allow decisions involving the others strengths to be made by that party with input from the others.
Last the same as you/like minded: You have innate talents and strengths that you were born with. It may be organization, math, science, finances, etc. So having more than one person who is say the CFO finance guy does not make for happy water cooler talk. Just like more than one leader/chef spoils the soup.
Someone one told me “Alan a good partnership is like a good wife.” I did not understand it at the time but now after 15 years of marriage I get it.
So what “Does” make a good Partnership?
First partnerships are not just people in your business with you. Partnerships are also suppliers, service companies, and the most important partner is you wife.
Partners complete you, should be different than you. I mean seriously ask yourself if you could hang out with you all day every day.
Your looking to build a diverse team each with different strengths and talents that make a more ordered and well balanced team. Sound a lot like a good marriage right?
The only way you can do that is to “know thyself.”
This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak. Super successful business people know their strengths, weaknesses, but also recognize that in others and help them bring it out. Everyone wants success as far as the trappings it brings, but most do not want to sacrifice, or work for it. So your partners better be willing to work hard and bring to the table something other than what you already have.
Remember the most successful people in today’s economy know themselves and do not lie to themselves when it comes to strengths and weaknesses. And they are willing to ask for help, which I will say to you all right now is my biggest weakness. I will ask you all my partners on this journey to help me now make GDW great. Help me change lives for the better, and work together knowing our strengths and weaknesses and asking for help when we need it.
I hope you will find that 15 minute a day “soul searching and being honest with yourself will usually produce a good results.” Once you know yourself you can find people who will help make you better.
Write down your list of strengths and weaknesses on a piece of paper. Review it, act upon it, strengthen the areas you can, get in a mentor group of honest business people and sharpen the areas your weak on. Steel sharpens Steel so to say.
Then once you have itemized your list of strengths and weaknesses you can start searching for partners that compliment you and will help round out your team. You will find that this exercise will make you better as a leader, as a citizen, and as a husband/wife/partner.
Here is To Life Long Success