When a solo-owner or entrepreneur knows that partnering is the next best business decision—be it for start-up, expansion, for future transition, or sale—paving the way with a well discussed, communicated, thought-out relating style is essential to avoid future conflicts. Consciously facing the need to come together with one or more business partners and pairing that with one’s own strengths and weaknesses around communication and expectations demands clarity and choices about where change will be necessary—and just where it “ain’t going to happen.”
That’s where an expert in both relationships and business comes in to guide you to help you clarify what you want in your business and how a business partner relationship fits your end goal. A business partner coach can then help you assess the candidates and coach you in discussions to ferret out that fit so you stay on track with your ultimate desired outcomes.
Challenges of Communication in Business Partnerships
The personality characteristics and strengths of the entrepreneur or business owner often run counter to, or do not co-exist well with, the needs of a mutual on-going working business partner relationship, let alone a binding partnership. It’s a well-known fact that many (but not all) founder, owner, entrepreneurs are visionaries who follow their own drumbeat. They do not necessarily “play well with others.” It’s not that they don’t care about others, it’s that they tend to be self-focused on the business they develop. They want to be in control of their creations, ideas, innovations. They often go fast and expect others to keep up. They often have a “sink or swim” mentality toward those around them.
For other personality styles, this can be very challenging. Thus many are not always good leaders or managers. They are good at visioning and seeing into the future. So considering a business venture with others or a business partnership should be approached thoughtfully, not impulsively. Too much is at stake—for the business and for the relationships.
While many entrepreneurs tend to trust their own instincts and hesitate to hire an executive coach, when a business owner is conscious of his or her Achilles heel so-to-speak, they gladly seek the advice of an expert business partner coach to avoid problems down the road.
Mixing Personality and Relationship Styles
Just like a well-thought-out business plan includes strategies plus tactics to pivot when challenges are presented, awareness of relationship styles and conscious acknowledgment of unique expectations that accompany each style will guard against you and your business objectives being derailed. Everyone enters into relationships with assumptions. Teasing these out and consciously choosing how you want to behave going forward is important. Bottom line, it will save you time, money—and regret.
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 determine just how nimble and proficient each proves to be. Having the skills to work for win/wins and a partnering mindset is key.
And what works at one stage of your business partnership may not work at another. 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 the 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.
Business/Career/Executive Coach, Business Transformation Consultant, Relationship Expert, 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. Differences 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.
- Check out other articles on Business Partner relationships on our blog.
- If you are a Dual-Career or Couple in business together check out our resources here.
- The Big Picture Partnering coaching for couples is found here and our blog is also rich in tips and tools.