Until you really sit and think about it, you might not even realize how many relationships you are part of. Of course, there are your romantic partnerships, workplace teams, and family member relationships, to name just a few. Sometimes it can be really tough to be a part of these partnerships, so it is really important to work at strengthening them – everyone wants to be Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, not Chris Pratt and Anna Faris!
Share your goals
Whether they are personal goals in a relationship or career-related goals for the founders of a company, if you are not both seeing the future heading in a similar direction, there really could be trouble ahead! Make sure you are honest with each other about what it is you want. If you couldn’t think of anything worse than having children, but your partner was born to be a parent, you need to both know this about each other before it is too late.
In business, if one partner sees the company staying small and local and true to its roots and the other wants to make it a franchise, there is some compromise that needs to be done, and this can only be done through open and honest communication. If this is something that may be an issue, there is no harm in getting in a neutral mediator to help this process.
Consider various endings
When you’re in the process of setting up a new business partnership, obviously you don’t want to be considering the end already, but it is a very important and sensible thing to do. Look at various scenarios, for example, if one partner wants to sell, but the other doesn’t want to. What would you do in this situation in terms of valuing the company or paying the partner who is ready to sell? These are decisions that should be considered way in advance, rather than in the heat of the moment when things might not be amicable.
As macabre as it might be, it is important to consider what would happen if one of the partners dies. There should be provisions put in place in case this were to happen to avoid any unnecessary added stress during an already difficult time. If nothing is set out in advance, the deceased partner’s spouse or children may automatically be made a partner, and this might not always be in the best interests of everyone involved, or the business.
How do you tackle tough decisions?
No matter how great you work together, as a couple or business partners, there will always come a time when difficult decisions must be made, and no partnership will ever agree fully 100% of the time. Before it gets to this point, plans for a tie-break method should be put in place to make decisions easier. For example, set each partner a list of expertizes or specific roles. Maybe one partner is great in finance and numbers, and the other is much better client-facing. When they disagree on something business related, the tie-breaking decision goes to the one who is more relevant in that specific area. Another way that you can get through this is by appointing a neutral third party who will listen to both sides of an argument and vote for which they feel is best for the company. This could be a paid consultant, or perhaps someone with a vested interest in the business, maybe through having a small amount of stock.
For any relationship to work, you have to put work in. Nothing just happens, and although we never want to plan for the bad things when it comes to marriage or business partnerships, it is best to do so and never need to implement the strategies, than ignore it and end up in trouble!