How to get the most out of a business partnership

How to get the most out of a business partnership

You’ve taken on a new venture and things aren’t quite going to plan. You push forward with greater intensity hoping this will move you faster towards your goals. This approach soon stalls, so you tweak your strategy and refocus, but still no traction. You persist regardless. Finally you have a win…validation! Things are now looking up, taking your spirit with it.

Two months pass, another lag… “Damn it!” Cash flow is depleted, so too your morale. “This is crazy! I need help and can’t do it alone!” you proclaim, so you bring in a partner and raise money to get things really rolling. You invest part of the funds in a paid business mentor.

Twelve months fly by. You now have support, but your financial hole is inflamed and getting more excruciating by the day. To your dismay you realise you’re in the same place you were twelve months ago, but now deeper in debt. To add insult, you’re questioning your partner’s motives and being harassed by demanding investors. All seems lost, but is it really?

Giving up at the critical stage will always limit your potential. In doing so, this weakens your personal resilience and enhances your reliance on others. This transmutes into a hazardous mindset that teaches you little more than to lean on others when times are tough.

Raising money can work. Similarly taking on a business partner or paying a mentor can be a clever strategy. But not when your business model is fundamentally lacking in substance or you lack a genuine passion and commitment to see your business goals through to the end.

If your business is struggling to gain traction, turning to the people you trust is your first option. Put your ego aside for a moment and be real and vulnerable. It’s essential you get candid advice here to assess your options. In contrast, when you pay for this type of advice you can often meet people who are pushing their own agendas. At this stage of the game, trusting your intuition or making the hardest decisions can be your smartest option.

Good paid mentors are hard to find, the best mentors I know don’t need to charge a fee – they simply get a buzz from helping people. You must know someone that is successful or well credentialed, a request to bend their ear will rarely meet with disapproval. Just be sure you’re seeking wisdom rather than a desperate plea for help or money – this is a turn off for anyone.

Bring in a business partner with caution. To succeed, the commercial fits must be logical and allow each party to uniquely contribute. When evaluating a business partner there’s a natural courting process that is frequently misleading – it’s important to reveal your scars and true intentions, as the truth will come out eventually. Vision and values must always be aligned, and when they are business partnerships can really take off and push all parties forward.

Consider who is really saving whom in the business partnership? Or do all parties need to be saved? Overlook these critical pieces of insight and you’ll all go down with the ship.

Over the journey, partners will come and go. Mentors will move on. Money will be raised and churned through. Before you consider a partnership, invest more in your own development and be willing to really push through. The best person to save you is always you.

Trent Leyshan is a regular blogger for SmartCompany. His book, Outlaw: Fight for your customers and sell without fear, is published by Wiley Australia.

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