My business partner

This phrase usually starts a sentence that ends in one of two ways; admiration or conflict. To be fair, most business partnerships start with some form of mutual admiration and respect. We strengthen each other’s weaknesses and help the idea grow into a business.

Then, inevitably, conflict occurs. It does so ever more frequently. Our differences, that which made us strong, has revealed itself as the Achilles heel of our business.

This story ends badly, in a number of different ways. One partner is worked out, someone is settled and removed, or someone starts a competitive firm.

It’s a truly unfortunate state of affairs. One that can be fixed if you plan for it in advance. Partner conflict is a consequence of divergent expectations. This is to be expected. We strengthen one another’s weakness, our perspectives on life, challenges and business are not the same.

We harness this by creating a playing field where the rules are clearly defined.

  • What game are we playing?
  • What are the rules?
  • What is acceptable conduct?
  • How do we win?

In business, this translates to purpose and intent, (direction and purpose), value system (our mutually agreed set of principles to guide decisions and conduct, the rule book) and well-defined roles (who does what and how do we ensure accountability).

When we don’t address these elements explicitly and agree to them, we create incongruence. Each partner has a version of these in their heads. It’s poor version control that bombs out the system.

This phrase should always be the start of a positive sentence.

Do the work.

Simon Rae

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