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.
I would suggest that you never have a partnership with anyone who requires motivation. Only be partners with those that are already motivated and have invested personal money.
Let's say that there are other issues and that you are misinterpreting the situation. You can each complete an assessment that will determine whether there are motivativations, management style, mental make up, and lot's more. I would have a professional offer and interpret the assessments. I am NOT speaking of MEYER BRIGGS as that would not be what you really require. Once the professional assessments are completed you will know more accurately what the issues really are. If your friend is a good idea person, but not good for much else, then possibly she would consider a more passive role vs an active partner, and less partnership interest. On the other hand, some valued partners require funding in oeder to survive the start-up phase so that they are able to commit mopre comfortably. All of those require a very personal discussion. Somtimes an independent mediator could be where you start. This method will go a long way in preserving your friendship as well.
I understand your concerns, I think. I tend to be hardworking and very focused and get frustrated sometimes when others seem to fall short from my perspective.
I don't think you can motivate your partner, but can and should be clear about your expectations and concerns. Perhaps her different approach has some advantages or perhaps it isn't a good fit but exploring via conversation is the place to start. As business partners, managing conflict is super important.
be pragmatic. define the minimum hours you think each one of you should put in, define the mission and also have a tool to estimate results. this way it will move from "nice to have" to a project management "rules of the game" if she is committed, that's good, if not... you can understand the situation... there is non symmetric passion in partnership, yet you need to evaluate her motivation and time priorities and decide if it fits your tolerance.
Write up an exit strategy agreement immediately! I went into business with my "best friend" and we had a similar situation to yours and ended up worst enemies in court. We did not have an agreement in, place because, hey... we're good friends. Trust me on this one.
I think Dan makes a good point and some good observations for you to consider.Also to add like most partners there will be differences ,like you putting in the donkey work ,whilst perceiving She isnt pulling her weight, What are her strong points and deploy them accordingly , You may be surprised that your work load will reduce . But as Dan mentioned get a streamlined and agreed approach and go from there, but also remember there will be some traits you will have to tolerate but dont loose sight of the bigger picture, consider some training or coaching but dont focus on what she is not doing and focus on what she is doing but make the expectations clear with time frames etc and hopefully with tiime all will pan out.Hope this helps a little.
Seems to me this should be like exiting any unsuccessful relationship - we tried - BUT. You must have had similar situations with others. How did you exit those relationships. If you want to carry somebody with whom you are not culturally compatible that's up to you. Starting and growing a business is a team effort wherein every member has to play their part or else just like with any team effort it will fail.
Smells like imminent dissolution coming. Plan for an exit strategy to buy her out. There are some good tips here to try but these things don't usually get better. Or you can choose the Zen route and only worry about yourself, let her be as she is.
Get a third party to talk this through; a coach, arbitrator, etc.. You need a neutral person to hear both sides and understand the stake both of you have in the business. Utilize that information to make your decision. Your partner needs to understand the risks and consequences of her actions in the business.
Then make your decision to go forward or dissolve the partnership with the information you now have. Don't dawdle, just decide.
First, make sure you have a solid operating agreement in place. In case you end up parting at some point you will be happy with this being clearly defined.
Second, be sure to clarify what your mutual goals are - what does success look like? Do you share the same vision and timeline?
Finally, mutually agree to quantify how hours invested at this point lead to investment in the company. It is possible that what your partner adds in terms of thought and innovation is worth it for you to work a bit harder than her. However, be sure to mutually agree on how to quantify that input.
As a side, note, I think it will be healthier for you to get over comparing your work to her - especially if she adds something that no matter how hard you work, you do not possess. If you really want the business to succeed, than work your butt off. Don't worry about how much others are putting in. This is your shot, and don't get distracted by bean counting.
Hi Bryan. Been there - very similar situation a while back. My advice? Get out. You can each pursue the idea, but separately. I appreciate everyone's advice, and I have no sour grapes here, but...if she's this way now, how bad will it be when there's actual work to be done?
Also consider - you do all the work and she reaps the rewards. Huge potential for bitterness on your end. The Little Red Hen story comes to mind.
I would start thinking of ways (if possible) to divide the business. If it's very early and there are no commitments, explain where you are mentally and part ways. Allow her to pursue it in her own manner, but not a part of "your" company.
Specific to my situation, it eventually ended with us closing the doors. The lack of enthusiasm and work ethic was unbearable, so I moved on. He went to work for the government. Go figure.
Honestly, that's a difficult situation to be in with any partner. I think what's really important, even more important than moving the business forward, is coming to an agreement as to HOW the business will move forward.
For example, I too partnered with two individuals and we all contribute differently to bring about the business as a whole. In much of what we have done, there has been a LOT of discussion. Some people, myself included, could feel that little has occurred except talking. However, through experience, I am able to see that we are continually refining our business model and process. We move forward in those things that we can, and hold off on the things that are not yet ready.
I have one partner who I've noticed tends to hold off on completing items for a little bit when he does not feel settled on the course we have selected. Until we have the time to discuss further and agree on a better path, or affirm the same one, we don't really move forward as a team.
So, I want to point out a couple things based off of what you said, and the example I just shared:
1. You need to discuss expectations with your partner. When do you expect to have this work done? Will you split it into bite size portions? How will it pay either of you? <-- This is a big one, because it takes a special type of person to be motivated towards an idea for which they are not yet being paid, or for which they may have to work for a year without pay.
I want to make it clear: This is not your opportunity to lay into your partner for their laziness. This is your opportunity to listen to your partner and understand what her goals are in life, and work, and with this business, and see if those coordinate with what the business needs.
For example, I had the opportunity to move recently which would have separated my partners and I. This was a financially positive decision, but in the end I chose to stay local. Why? The business. Commitment is important, but you can't demand it, you have to cultivate it.
2. If your partner is unmotivated/uncommitted to the idea then perhaps you need to find a new partner. However, be darn sure before you go suggesting that you oust her- that will only cause bad blood otherwise. In the event that your partner truly is unmotivated though, they should have no problem with holding a reduced equity share and losing their managerial position and rights. Any reasonable person would agree to that.
However, in the case that they don't, your partner either too highly values their contribution, or you are valuing them too low.
Hope that helps! Good luck!
Tricky situation, one I've been in myself, where I'm doing all the work and have tried to discuss the situation on multiple occasions.
I ended up sitting him down and started to discuss reducing his equity in the business based on the amount of input he was putting in. It worked in his case and he started pulling his weight and engaging with the employees to drive the business forward.