I've been having major difficulties with my business partner for a new venture we're trying to grow. Any tips/advice for remedying the situation?
I just started a new venture with a business partner, who is a personal friend of mine. We formed the concept together - however, as I am the type of person who works quickly and quite hard to implement ideas, I have done the vast majority of the grunt work and outreach. My partner, though nice and innovative, has been a lot lazier and less passionate about our project. She prefers to do things on her "own time" and only do the absolute minimum of work possible. She gets defensive when I confront her, saying things like, "It's not like our business will die if we don't work on it for a while."
Our venture definitely has potential - we've received highly positive feedback from our audience. Its success would mean so much to me - though I know she wants the same, she is not willing to work for it, and she doesn't have the drive.
How can I motivate my partner and, in the event that she refuses to put in the hard work yet again, get her to leave the project? I have other colleagues who are just as hardworking and passionate about this as I am, but she is a co-founder. What should I do? Any advice/tips would be greatly appreciated.
Always a difficult one.
The background to this is likely to be that whilst you have been friends for some time, your working preferences are very different. My daughter had a similar situation at Uni when three out of a whole class were prepared to let everyone else do the work and no one wanted to lead.
It was simple to identify the challenge [from afar] with "profiles" but all attempts to change the situation failed. That was their choice and at least no one would FAIL because of it.
If you feel that you simply cannot continue under the present situation then you have "an easy way out".
GIVE YOUR PARTNER A CHOICE.
Rather than force a Failure on the business for the future - offer her the chance to BACK OUT NOW.
The alternative option is that neither of you will want to work for the business and it will fail anyway.
The next question is then YOUR CHOICE .
What is it that YOU REALLY NEED FROM A PARTNER.
Will your business really survive with two of you doing what you want ,when you want?
Every business needs people who have DIFFERENT skills and STRENGTHS.
In the beginning a business needs at least one" go getter" and one" caretaker."
The GG takes the RISKS and the caretaker MANAGES the risks.
These two are opposites and rarely see eye to eye. They just accept that the business is bigger than both of them and get on with open and honest communication.
Now you have more than one answer....
Any business is BIGGER than you, the questions is, can you live up to what the business NEEDS and be able to mold it for the future?
The duck test is a humorous term for a form of inductive reasoning. This is its usual expression:
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
You already know the answer to this. It is time to either get her out or to walk out and build it all over again... You done it once.
By the sound of it she will never make it fly by her own and this puts you in a great situation.
Cards on the table... work or walk away.
Leadership is about motivating your peers and staff working with you. As a leader, you need to understand the reasons behind what demotivates your partner in this case which resulted in her loosing the drive to push on. Alternatively, as a leader, you should also look into yourself. Are you too pushy and not providing your partner sufficient information or clear her doubts to enable her decide to work with you in your direction? Most of all, try to understand her and draw out her fears or doubts, if any before making any harsh decision. She is your partner after all and you need to gain her trust and make her comfortable on your ventures.
Since you are the one who likes to do the work without any delay - So I think you have to divide the work into two parts - 1. the work which needs to be done fast shall be under your control 2, the work which can be delayed for some time shall be under his control Plus reminding him from your side every time , In addition to that sometimes important decisions to be taken by you at the right time when ever its needed .
Hi Bryan - as what you describe regards interaction between humans, let's focus only on what works 100% ;-)
And this NLP-based strategy will save your friendship and get your venture on track, including your partner (who will motivate themselves now - yes, you read that correctly).
The strategy is called 'chunking' and determines when is wise to get higher level/general info (chunking up) vs getting lower level/detailed focus (chunking down). There is no space or need here (ever!) to get into previously unproductive human factors. It is focused on positive outcomes to achieve the desired results. That's right.
Here's the key: ideal negotiation happens at the highest chunk-up level. Only then chunk down (only as far as needed to get into details needed to achieve the positive outcomes you negotiated by chunking up). Otherwise, your negotiations fail as they are mired in details and conflict (as you wrote).
Private message me to let me know how to empower you further.
To your venture's stress-free success Byron.
You need to sit her down and talk. the talk "its not like it will die if we don't work for a while" is not heading your business in the right direction. I presume you both came to the idea for the startup together, and it seems that most of here involvment from her site was brainstorming the idea? Well there are a lot of ideas, good and bad, and having a good idea without fast and hard work on bringing it to market makes any idea - just an idea - worth very little. Because at tha same time there are probably a few other teams working on the same or similar idea.
Talk to your partner, sincerely about the situation, make a strict agreement on your mutual obligations and set rules what will happen if partner does not do his part of the work. Define to your partner how much this projects means to you what you will do, and expect the same effort from her. If she does not agree, then suggest that you split the partnerhip. in the end with her stalling on her part will put the venture in problems and you will end with nothing, or very little.
Don't know the current status of the project but in really problematic situation sometimes it is easier to simply open another company and restart the project under a new name (that depends on how dod you go on the project by now).
Hi Bryan, It sounds as if your partner has lost some interest in the business concept that you formed together. I think if you sit down with her and ask her what her vision is for the business is and how she sees her role in this concept, you will get a good idea of her engagement. Possibly she just wants to be engaged with the concept idea and not in the implementation of the commercialization of this idea. If this is the case then you are better off going off on your own.
As long as you don't have a formal partnership agreement then it would be easy to end this business relationship without losing a friend. Unless both of you are on the same page with a clear vision and division of duties and expectations, I'm afraid you will be in for a rough ride, friend or no friend.
There are many views to what you are describing as your "major difficulty".
The first view I see is personality conflict. You will have this with anyone, even someone that you believe is just like you. You seem to be a perfectionist, worker bee...I know because I too am that personality type. However, passion, though measured in activity is not always the only measurement. Adjectives like "Lazy and Less Passionate" are a no,no; simply because they are judgements based on activity. If you followed a famous author in the writing process you would find out that they do not write a book in a day. It does not all come pouring out of them at once. Some people are "thinkers" and others are "doers". It would be safe to say that your "friend" (first mistake in business ventures) is a "thinker", because you reiterated that she is a co-founder. This means she helped in some capacity, correct? Sometimes working with friends is a no,no...All of the time judging people by activity is a no,no.
Reassess the situation. Lay out the mission. Assign the roles. Just believe there is a role for her and this way you can continue your success without any legal issues, or mental stress. Keep your friend and continue your success.
You seriously need to sit down and talk to your partner about the concerns because those concerns need to be addressed before any unnecessary problems arise. When you sit with her, you can show her what you have been thinking about and explain you would like her input since she is your partner. I understand your partner wants to get work done and meet deadlines, but she should open up about her concerns so she's not keeping things in. A new venture is always scary, but one idea could be hiring someone to help with current projects so your partner can get started with new ventures.
In any partnership deal, you would be wise to proceed with caution if you would like to avoid a lawsuit. The value of the business, and its potential future revenue could come into play. You must both agree on the way the business is run if you are 50/50 partners. If you have 51%+ ownership, then you have a dominant position. A neutral third party consultant/mediator could be the cure, because you might be able to put in place performance requirements that are linked to ownership percentages. You might also identify different roles that she could absorb, such as more PR work, or whatever fits with her skill-set and personality.
One way to grow the company is to hire a Board of Directors who want to invest in the company. They may invest time, money, or both, in exchange for stock options. The company doesn't have to be a publicly traded company. The Board would then have the power to hire and fire.
Hi Bryan, I suggest talking to her about a system where the business pays you for the hours you put in so you get rewarded for the time and effort. The other option is sweat equity. The more work you do the more equity in the company you own. If the work load is 60/40 then you will hold 60% shares and your business partner 40% shares. This is a very common situation. I specialise in structures so if you wish to talk to me further please contact me. Regards Nigel
I've always felt the only thing I as a business owner and manager could not instill in people is long term initiative. Without more details I would suggest an amicable split as it sounds like her laissez faire attitude will not help your organization in the future any more than you feel it has helped to this point.
Good luck with a big problem.
Start formalizing your relationship and document everything.
You should agree on and document:
1. A strategy with work plans - which specific tasks will be done, by whom, by when, and to what end. Both need to agree to the work plan and be held accountable. If one or both parties don't agree, you've got a dysfunctional management team and you need to part ways and pursue each opportunity individually.
If she agrees to a work plan and does not execute it, and you have it documented, you have evidence on which to make a decision to stay with her or to work with other colleagues.
2. Track time the way you would track expenses - 50/50 partnerships make sense where both partners put in an equal amount of time/money. If that equality is disrupted, the 50/50 equity split makes less sense and, as others have suggested, you can adjust accordingly. Similar to #1, both parties need to agree; otherwise you have a dysfunctional management team and need to part ways.
If she agrees to tracking time and expenses and vesting for equity and does not meet her obligations, you can relegate her to non-management or break away completely as advised by others.
One more thing:
You need to change the way you think about your partner and give her the benefit of the doubt (although she likely doesn't deserve it). She might not be lazy, or less passionate, or do only the minimum requirement. Strike those phrases from your vocabulary and give her an honest shot.
It could be that she's overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks, or that she is intimidated by getting started, or she is anxious about starting a business. It's not your responsibility to motivate your partner but you might find success in uncovering the root cause and underlying concerns.
Aggressive language with negative connotations adds emotion to what should be an evidence-based decision: work with her or go it alone.
At the end of the day, it's a business partnership. You should agree on the business strategy, work plans, and timelines. If you don't agree on these elements, you have a dysfunctional management team and you need to part ways.
It's your mutual responsibility to grow shareholder value by designing and executing its strategic plan, on time and on budget. If she does not fulfill her responsibilities, you have a dysfunctional management team and you need to part ways.
Give her an honest shot. Document your strategy, work plans, and timelines. Agree on them. Make your decision to stay with her or to go your own way based on facts, not emotion. If the advice you've received here is any indication, your odds of success together are low. But use evidence to support your decision one way or another.
Firstly, do you have any form of shareholders agreement? If so, the basis for your next steps lie there.
If not (and I suspect it's a not, given you're friends) then you need to lay out and agree the path forward. A good tool for this is what I have variously seen called an "equity trajectory" or "value map". One one axis is commercial development, on the other is technology/service/product development (pick the one that suits your business). Lay out the major milestones in generating value you have achieved and still need to achieve. Ideally you're trying to step up and across and up and across to milestones and progress as close as possible to a 45 degree line between the two to maximise enterprise value.
Develop that map with your partner so she shares in it's creation. Now you have a shared language about the pathway. Otherwise you're just setting yourself up for more destructive confrontation. Once you have the map agreed then agree timeframes for the milestones and consequences for failure.
Doing this will get you and your partner to quickly see the respective levels of commitment and you'll find out whether the "go slow" has more to do with other reasons that haven't made it out of the subtext yet. Now you know where you stand, otherwise you'll just be arguing round and round the mulberry bush without an anchor point.
Laying out the map also let's you both come to a reasonable and more objective consideration of each other's respective performance and desire to move ahead. You might find this is a watershed moment with little grief. She chooses to step aside or pull her weight. If it's the latter you must have a structure in place to deal with the same issue repeating in the future.
So I suggest you design a vesting structure. You set an enterprise value based on where you are on the value map in terms of milestones achieved and agree a valuation and a share of input to date. Can be 50/50 or 99/1, you decide together. you agree so many shares are to be issued to each partner accordingly. Then, as each milestone gets ticked off you review performance in these terms and vest new equity based on that performance. That way a slacker quickly gets diluted and it is fair and reasonable. If you have a shareholder's agreement then might need to be amended to cover off decision making.
Alternatively you pull the pin on the venture altogether and start afresh on your own. But as others have said, what is more important, the business or the friendship?
Get out now! Is this actually a going concern, or just in the talking stage? Is there any value? Has she put in any money? Made any contributions to intellectual property? I doubt that a "concept" has economic value, but this is a lawyer question.
Document everything you and she have done.
Be nice. Say to her, "It's not working out due to our differing styles. It's best for us to part company before things go any further, while we are still friends. We need a letter between us wrapping up affairs, and allocating any assets."
Then get an attorney to review this. Get her to sign it. Smile and shake hands.
A partnership without a written agreement, which is your situation, is a time bomb. Legally, if she were sued, you could be held responsible for anything she does, or any debts she incurs. And vice versa.
The last thing anyone needs is an entrepreneur who isn't.
Buy her out, get a new partner who is willing to share the workload.
if I understood well you started the new venture with a friend who is a woman
First of all, you decided together but it looks like it was not a co shared work because you have done the majority of the implementation
may I ask some questions
- were you in a hurry to start?
- did you consult your partner?
- did you trust her?
- have you prepared together a business plan?
I have the impression you have taken the leadership without asking permission to your partner
If and when the company is co shared, by both with equal responsibilities and duties, it is normally a good start (not your case)
When you start a new company your joy should expand and be in tune with the movements of the soul.
Whatever the path is we are led by the soul. If we are in tune we feel connected to something great and this is pure joy.
Have you perceived all this? is your partner satisfied and does she feel joyful ? do you feel full and complete thank to the connection with her?
if you are not quite and in peace it means your purpose is completely different from the one of your partner or that something has shifted and I would propose to place both of you in a constellation: if she has no wishes, she has no intent
Even when we talk of business the order of love are still valid and you should check with her what has changed ....
Both of you have equal belonging to your company and equal responsibilities
At your disposal
I have seen this too many times, and there is no easy way to get out of a tough situation. While I'm sure the preferred answer will be a magic solution to motivate your co-founder, there are none that I'm aware of. So it's back to basics:
a) How much do you value your relationship with your co-founder
If you value the relationship, then let the business go
If you value the business, then let the relationship go
b) Do you have a legal agreement for your business
If you do, then you are in luck, and you can follow the terms of the agreement.
If you don't, ....
c) If you are the only one doing the work, and the other person is not willing to step up to it, make it official (close shop) and reopen another in your name only. Yes the other person may complaint but you can "legally" show that you give them an opportunity to step up and they failed (so when you succeed they can't come after you).
I have been there several times where people ask me to "put my time and effort" and there will be a reward.. Normally I give them an example of what I can do (basic questions and idea of what deliverables do they need), and ask for a contract in writing. No contract, no further work (its a business and the person is trying to make money out of it not a charity). On that way I retain the same level of friendship/or lack thereof with the person.
So far, the 4 business that asked me for "help" have failed. NO, I will not say that I would have changed that 100%, but any business person that is not willing to make commitments in writing, most probably is not willing to actually put the effort in making it succeed.
I would do two things:
1) Fire her from the partnership
2) Hire her as consultant/desiger/whatever
Finito lavoro, then she can take the time she needs for it.
Please think about, that a woman needs three times mor time than a man?!?
lg Hampinho Rüesch
It is almost impossible to understand the dynamic of your situation from a short post.
I would offer the following from anyone weighing a partnership:
* Before starting, detail the contributions and work product expected from each party
* Never go into business with close friends--or family--just my experience
* Be sure that you have complimentary skills, not overlapping abilities