The reality is you spend more time awake and engaged with your business partner than you do with your partner or spouse. The constancy and intensity of that relationship can present issues, conflicts and obstacles every bit as complicated as those found in a romantic relationship. It might seem unorthodox at first, but ‘couples counseling’ for business partners might be exactly what you and your partner need to bring your business to the next level.
At first glance, drawing a parallel between your personal or romantic relationship and your business relationship may seem like a stretch. Despite your potential initial resistance to the idea, if you think about your business in terms of a family system, the similarities start to become obvious. For instance, if you have staff, even a small one, your differing ‘parenting’ styles—meaning how you manage your staff and your expectations—can create some challenges.
Another challenge for you may come if you institute systems changes. That’s kind of like a home renovation, where there’s a tear-down phase, then a construction phase, then a ‘everybody needs to get used to where the new silverware drawer is’ phase.
Then, of course, there’s issue of money. In a marriage or partnership, one of the biggest stressors—and one that often doesn’t get discussed—is finances. If your business partner is comfortable with money—meaning he or she has a good relationship with it—and you do not, that can be a source of consternation for you both. While your business partner might regard an expenditure as sensible, you may disagree. It’s important for the two of you to develop system and put them in place to create balance, reduce tension and create the ability to work through these kinds of potential challenges.
Communication and communication style are also points to consider. If you business partner is less than open, or doesn’t share—not just feelings, but changes in policy, outside business relationships or even something as simple as a follow-up email from a client—while you are transparent and open, this can be a source of frustration for both of you. Learning to develop a more consistent and harmonious system of information sharing can support you in furthering the success of your business.
Overall personality and character can also be a source of friction. If one of you is a strong manager, with a directive organizational style, while the other is bit more laid back and sometimes waits for direction, rather than taking the initiative, resentments are likely to build. Over time, those resentments can erode the foundation of your relationship—just like in your personal life—and create a divide that may be difficult to heal.
Something else to consider is that the way you and your business partner interact creates the culture of the business. Your struggles, conflicts, cooperation and compromises don’t just affect the two of you, but also affect your staff—from your admin to your sales force—as well as your relationships with clients. Tension at ‘home’ means tension in the field, and that can impact your bottom line.
If you or your business partner(s) feel you might benefit from business relationship coaching in your efforts to improve your relationship and grow your business, please reach out to me at 860-258-4113 or contact me through the website.
“Dori worked with me and my business partner of 31 years to help us sort out dissolving the business, who was also a friend of 39 years. My partner wanted to leave the business, and we were fighting about how to split, while still maintaining our friendship. By the time we met with Dori, we were on the verge of hiring attorneys to negotiate terms, our business was in danger of self-destructing because morale was so low, and our friendship was in jeopardy.
After two months of working with Dori, we didn’t need to go through litigation, and saved ourselves about $50,000. Dori helped us work out a way to break up the business partnership that worked for everyone. Morale increased, sales went back up and our friendship was in great shape! Incredibly, Dori helped save us $300,000 in sales and attorney’s fees and saved a 39-year friendship.” — Dr. David Hovey, PsyD, LPC