‘One Monday morning I got to work and there was nothing there. I mean nothing. The chairs, desks, files and computers were all gone. I first thought we had been robbed so I called my business partner only to find out that his phone was disconnected. Alarm bells went off. I immediately phoned the bank to find out that the account was cleared out. I was devastated.’
No one wants to experience a failed business partnership. Research shows that irrespective of the duration of the partnership, it can take anything from five years or more to recover financially and emotionally. Research has shown a number of similarities in the lifecycle of business partnerships that we can all learn from. Here are a few tips to consider.
Top five tips when considering going into partnership
- Look at your network for prospective partners.
- Be honest about your expectations, commitment, expertise, time etc.
- Spend either a long weekend together or work on a project to determine whether your working and communication styles etc. are in sync.
- Undertake personality tests to check whether you will work well together.
- The more forthright the partners are up front, the greater chance of success the partnership will have.
Top five tips for successful partnerships
- Find the right partner for you and the business (see above for tips).
- Have a contract that covers more of what will go wrong and actions to be taken in those instances.
- Each partner is equal in the partnership irrespective of roles and the contract should take cognizance of that.
- Establish clear roles for each partner which are focused on a common goal.
- Develop honest, clear, stick-to-the-issues communication and active listening between the partners.
Top five lessons from failed partnerships
- A number of people lost not only their business but also their homes, cars etc.
- The partner who instigates the breakup underestimates the value the other partner provided.
- Irrespective of the previous relationship with the business partner, the relationship frequently does not recover from a failed business partnership.
- They weren’t well prepared – didn’t have a contract or the contract was biased in favour of one partner.
- What happens afterwards? This question was an impetus for revolutionary change for some and for others it was harder to resolve and move forward.
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