I love what I do as the Rescuer of business partnerships. But like a dentist who teaches you to brush and floss to prevent the dreaded cavity, I prefer to prevent the need to be rescued and can do so if I have been consulted early in the game. Nevertheless, I am very good in my role as the Rescuer.
How does a partnership get to the point of desperately signaling for help?
Over time, sometimes even from day one, partners don’t discuss the basics that will not only ensure their relationship is successful, but set the tone for the success of the business as time goes on. A business partnership is much like a marriage. When you meet that special someone whom you’re hoping to make your lifelong partner, you date for a while before taking the next big step: marriage. The reason for dating is to see if you connect with someone and if you want to continue with second, third, and so on, dates. But as things progress, you’re faced with the bigger picture and some very important questions: Do you share the same values? Do you have the same vision of how and what you want your lives to look? Do you have personalities that meld? What attitudes and habits do you each have that will coincide or need adjustment and compromise? What are your attitudes about finances and work? How will you divide the work that needs to be done at home?
So before the dress shopping and cake tasting ensues, these questions and many more should be shared until you can be sure whether or not you are a match.
The search for a business partner is very similar to searching for a spouse. In both circumstances, finding a match is only phase one. No, you don’t have to discuss how many children you want and whose house you’ll attend for the holidays, unless, of course, your business partner is your spouse. But there are many issues to discover about a potential business partner, maybe even more, when it comes to the details. You will probably spend more time with your business partner than with your spouse. So how does this lead to me being called to the rescue? For whatever reason, potential partners get very excited about the business and their respective skill sets and think that’s enough. Then they jump into the “marriage” like two lovestruck teenagers who just turned eighteen. The excitement usually lasts through the honeymoon period, but troublesome things are already happening. Personality quirks begin to annoy, a bad business decision is made, or a disagreement remains unresolved. Rather than face them, the honeymooners prefer to look the other way, shove them under the carpet, and avoid the so-called confrontation. Eventually, the annoyances fester into full blown resentment. The avoidance becomes the way of doing business with each other. The decisions not made early on, the memory of who said what at the outset, and the misunderstandings about all of it prevail.
The result of this non-communication with underlying bad feelings affects many people beyond the partners and, of course, the bottom line too. If you don’t regularly look at, discuss, and plan your business it cannot function at its highest potential and at the very least money is being left on the table.
Employees who pick up on the tension are affected and sometimes take sides without even knowing the issues. Others affected by this scenario in a big way are investors, customers, and families. Chances are the partners are stressed, angry, and worried; all of which they take home to the couch with them. And that’s when I get the phone call or email asking for the rescue.
What I do from our first session on is lower the volume of tension and emotion between the partners. If they didn’t let the bad feelings get beyond repair to a situation where they have one foot on the courthouse steps, but rather are committed to making it work, I can orchestrate a rescue. What happens within 1-3 sessions is that we get to the point where they rediscover that they are not so far apart in their desires, dreams, and goals. Using the tools I created for successful partnerships, especially the Business Partnership Agreement Template and the What Ifs Scenarios Handbook, we can restart the romance and fill in all of the gaps created by the discussions and decision making that didn’t occur in the beginning. We then are able to gather the tools of communication, set up an infrastructure, and schedule regular meetings that are en pointe.
There are decisions to be made at both the micro and the macro level, and setting it up for the successful continuity the partners desire is my job as the Rescuer. And I love my job.