Four tips on what not to say to an integral business partner from Deborah Sweeney.
A solid partnership can be a real boon to a new business. Not only does it give each entrepreneur someone to rely on and look to for help and support, but the business can draw on the strengths of each partner, rather than relying on just one owner. However, the very nature of business partnerships can lead to conflict.
Related Article: 5 Steps to Make Business Partnerships Work
Unless you see completely eye-to-eye with your business partner – a feat that is, honestly, nearly impossible – you will argue. The trick is to create a business partnership that can survive these small rifts, and knowing how to communicate will help you to do just that. So, when you talk with your partner, don’t ever say…
“I’ll take care of everything”
As a business owner myself, I know how controlling we can be. We just don’t like letting other people run our company. So when you start a business partnership, control is going to be one of your hottest issues. And you may be tempted to just throw your hands in the air, tell your partner to bug off for a few hours, and just let you take care of everything. But if you’re able to handle the business on your own, why even have a partner? Saying that you’ll take care of everything either sets precedence for you to do all the work, or makes your partner feel unneeded. Either way, your partnership and business suffers for it.
“Let’s not sign anything”
This is easily one of the worse ways to start a partnership. I don’t care if your partner is your sibling, spouse, or best friend – always have the proper paperwork in place. How much of the business does each partner own? Does each partner have a particular set of jobs? What happens if one of the partners wants to walk away from the business? Before you do anything, you need to sit down with your business partner and a professional to write down the logistics of how the business will be run and sign a contract. It might feel unnecessarily formal, but codifying these rules early on will help solve later disputes.
“We can wing it”
You ALWAYS need a plan. The problem with partnerships is that you can assume that the other person will pick up the slack, or solve a problem. There’s this “two-heads-are-better-than-one” mentality that can trip up otherwise capable businesspeople. Marketing, sales, expansion – it doesn’t matter what facet of your business you’re working on. You need to work together and plan it out. That way everyone is on the same page, there’s a roadmap to follow, and no one steps on anyone else’s feet.
I know it’s a bit of a double negative, but you should never say nothing. That is, a constant conversation needs to occur. When you run a business with a partner, you’re one half of a whole. The business needs to be talked about, understood, and run in step with the intentions of both partners. Neither you nor your partner should feel as though they aren’t contributing.
Even if each partner handles a different part of the business, like if you take care of accounting and your partner manages the company, it’s up to each partner to make sure the other person is aware of what’s happening in that part of the business. Communication is the key to a successful business partnership. So you need to remember to communicate effectively and wisely.