How to Coexist With a Business Partner to Build an Empire

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When I thought about the phenomenon of business partnership, I remembered the film The powerful.

The story centers on two teenagers: Max, a silent and clumsy giant, and Kevin, nicknamed “Freak”, a clever little boy who got sick and walked on crutches. They were constantly taunted and bullied at school. After another incident, the boys decided to fight back against their classmates by forming a giant knight. Kevin climbed onto Max’s shoulders and became the mastermind behind which the burly giant crushed the attackers.

From the literal to the metaphorical, The powerful remains one of my most important collaboration films. It reveals the most important part of the partnership, which I call the multiplication of talents. Let’s break this down and a few more basics of effectively managing a business partnership.

See also: Everything you need to know about business partnerships

1. Distribute responsibilities

If two people run the company and both have the same idea of ​​how they want to develop or how they want to get out of this or that situation, it doesn’t make sense. Each of you shouldn’t have to do everything – you should focus on your primary skills.

Another managing partner of our holding company and I have different competencies. For example, I am an economist by profession. I look for investors and bring companies into new markets. I mainly lead our projects in Europe and Asia because I have been working in these markets for more than 10 years.

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On the other hand, my business partner deals with strategic planning. He lives in the USA and mainly leads our projects there. He’s a computer systems engineer by trade, which is one of the reasons his pet projects are technology-based.

What do we gain from such a division of tasks? First, we are building a diversified inventory of multi-vector assets, making the business increasingly sustainable. Secondly, it is a more convenient way of leading a team: employees at all levels know who to contact with which question. And thirdly, in this way we keep the right distance and do not micromanage or excessively control each other. Development needs space, which we give each other.

Our cooperation is based on the “do what works best” principle. And it works: the stock grows from year to year.

See also: 8 Important Considerations for Choosing the Right Business Partner

2. Don’t hog the ceiling

A business partnership is somewhat similar to a marriage relationship. It is important that partners understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how they will deal with them.

If both partners are unable to relinquish control or admit their weaknesses, they will almost 100% take the blanket off each other — that is, they will compete for the most power without considering the partner’s best interests. But in competition, partners weaken each other and the joint project.

Partner signals to employees, especially the CEO, are very important. C-level managers see the struggle between founders as the standard of corporate relationships and a model for subordinate leadership. If you find that your employees lack agency, it is often because of their example.

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The ideal version of a business relationship is when your partner is equal in strength and personality, and differs in habits and ideas. From our partnership experience, I know that the air between you can get electrified at times, but the best solutions emerge in such friction.

See also: 3 Steps to Building Powerful Business Partnerships

3. Give your partner the right to make mistakes

“Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan,” said John F. Kennedy. In a business relationship, the partners must be accountable for each other’s decisions. If they blame each other for bad decisions, they won’t stick together for long. Failures should be an opportunity to review the strategy together and work on mistakes.

Breakdowns and unsuccessful investments are constant companions of entrepreneurs. About two dozen startups that my partner and I invested in have burned to the ground. If we fought each other after every failure, we wouldn’t have built a big international business.

It takes time to develop the right attitude towards failure. We used to fight for every startup, but over time we have become more pragmatic. If quarterly reports do not agree, market indicators have fallen and there are no conscious growth forecasts, then we decide to close such a deal.

See also: The 4 most important principles of every successful partnership

4. Enjoy your collaboration

Partners can be an effective team and earn good money together. But it is just as important how they feel about this process and about this relationship.

The joy of working together is what binds partnerships together. Admiration for a partner’s talents and the joy of working together can save a company even in difficult times. The ability to enjoy signals security and thus the ability to trust. Trust is created through mutual support in times of upheaval, sincerity and attentiveness towards the business partner.

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You should be able to have fun together. I was very lucky with my partner because it is interesting to discuss new books and research with him and to discuss the development vector of our projects. And since we often argue, it’s crucial that the shared emotional base is solid.

All the nuances of partner interaction are directly reflected in the deal. There is much that is personal in a productive business partnership, and emotional comfort weighs no less than the number of deals done or the value of shared assets. Well-established partnerships are not a gift from heaven, but daily joint work. I hope that the principles I have shared will help you make this work easier and more fun.

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