All businesses and all individuals grow through natural stages of development over the course of a lifetime. Or they stagnate. They cease to grow. Natural growth spurts and transitions occur approximately every 7 –10 years for individuals; every so many millions in profit for business.

Having a smooth functioning culture with happy employees who have support and resources for their personal and professional development starts at the top. For owners and business partners, a long-view toward future transition or sale puts markers for growth into perspective. When business partners are aware of these long-term objectives—and their partnering relationship is solid—communicating through growth stages and transitions, providing access to resources for individual development, and other cultural values naturally goes hand-in-hand with productivity expectations and profit markers.

Transitioning through stages provokes the need for change. Some owners are sensitive to changes on the horizon, anticipate, and plan ahead. Others are heads-down focused on the day-to-day demands. Such owners are often blindsided by unexpected needs. Individuals and relationships are strained. In business, with so much on the line, change requires understanding, negotiation, new strategies and tactics, for partners to stay focused on mutual outcomes. The foresight, alignment, and consistency of the partnership relationship determines just how nimble and proficient each proves to be.

What works at one stage of your business partnership may not work at another. And if a partner’s personal life goes haywire, or demands more attention, as in the case of pregnancy, divorce, illness, or death in a family, is your partnership armed with the tools and skills to pivot, to move through the changes as a team?

Whether change is anticipated or unexpectedly thrust upon you, having not only an agreed upon approach to carrying out your business objectives, a firm business model and working business plan, it’s also important to have an agreed upon approach to relating—so you know you can count on one another to work through the challenges together.

The need for care and clear communication is important at each choice point from start-up, through phases of growth, through to future planning for succession or sale. While business and personal lives are often not mentioned in the same sentence, there is a need for care not only due to impacts on the business success, but also impacts on personal lives, the fruition of personal dreams and fulfillment. And care for your relationship as business partners.

Consciously acknowledging that business and personal changes will occur naturally over time, functioning consistently with a growth mindset, you can arm yourself with mindset, tools, and skills so your business remains focused, your employees and customers are minimally impacted, and you support one another through the transitions and choice points that occur.


Dr. Jan Hoistad

Business/Career/Executive Coach, Relationship Expert, Blogger, Author

When a business partnership is going well, it’s great. There’s energy, creativity, productivity. Differences put partnership stability to the test. Coming together as business partners pools connections, spreads financial risk, may increase the employee base, and expand the marketplace. Difference can feel like something resolvable together. But when experienced as threatening, it creates disconnection. If there is out-and-out conflict, a business partnership can quickly deteriorate and spread negativity like a virus throughout a team or company. Having the mindset, tools, and skills to navigate together is a necessity for a smooth functioning business and long-lasting partnership.