How to Survive and Thrive in a Business Partnership

How to Survive and Thrive in a Business Partnership
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This is my business partner at Oak Street Social, Johanna Grange. (Yes, she’s adorable.)

90% of the time I love her. 10% of the time we disagree — passionately — about a business we both LOVE and have both poured our hearts and souls into. That makes for some spirited disagreements. Can you imagine?

Today, I’m sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of going into business with a partner. Can you handle the truth? Here it comes..

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PRO: There’s another human being to count on when times get tough.

When we started our business, I was going through a contentious divorce and honestly could not imagine having gotten our company off the ground quickly or efficiently without my business partner. There were days when I would suddenly end up in court and suddenly have to clear my schedule. (No, that’s not normal. Yes, it was that kind of a divorce.) There were days when I just ended up with more on my plate than one human being could handle. I could not have done it alone. Thanks to my business partner, I didn’t have to. 

PRO: Her opinion matters as much as mine.

CON: Her opinion matters as much as mine.

I am in a 50-50 partnership. I don’t think there’s any other effective way to do it. Why? Because you can’t marganilize the importance of your partner and expect things to go well. That means my business partner and I both have equal say in what happens at our company. This can be incredibly difficult when we disagree. To be honest, sometimes it’s tough! On the other hand, I have a partner who cares as much as I do and is vested as much as I do. Together, even through disagreements, we grow in ways one could never aspire to do alone. Remember, whenever you are out of your comfort zone as an entrepreneur, you’re doing it right. 

PRO: Where she is weak, I am strong and vice versa. 

PRO: Accountability 

CON: Accountability  

One major reason so many people start their own businesses is that they want the ability to call the shots and do things on their own terms. When you partner up with somebody else, you're suddenly accountable to another person -- a person who might have an equal say as to how things happen on the business front.

Here’s my top 5 list of tricks to survive — and even thrive — in a business partnership:

1) Time heals all wounds: Married couples may vow not to go to bed angry, but business partners sometimes need to take a break from each other.

Trust me, this partnership is every bit as passionate as a marriage, albeit in a different way. Sometimes when emotions are strong, the best thing one can do is take a break from the conversation until the dust has settled. 

2) Division of church and state: Because there will be times that business partners disagree, it’s imperative that each partner own responsibility for particular aspects of the business! When all else fails, I’m responsible for my portion of the business and you’re responsible for yours. 

3) Honesty: It’s like marriage, but more lucrative... trust is everything. You can lie to yourself about what’s going on with your business but never lie to your business partner. ;-) 

4) Better together: Because of our different skill sets, we are truly better as a team. We can offer a greater depth of expertise to our clients. In our case, that has made growth as a company easier and quicker.

 5)  Perspective: A good business partner helps you keep it real. There are times when you’re flying high and need to be brought down to earth.  Whether you’re feeling over pessimist or overly confident, your business partner can help keep things level by countering the sometimes emotional responses in business with another perspective.