Business Partnership Advisor

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Chris Reich, Business Luminary

Tip for Talking with Your Business Partner

Chris,

I was friends with my business partner for 10 years before we got into business together. Now we aren’t even friends. 

As a Business Partner, You Wear Many Hats

Anyone who starts a business has many hats to wear. Sales, manager, accountant? You will wear them all in a day. If you are a business partner, you probably have even more hats in your collection. You might wear the hat of a friend, son, nephew, or some other relationship that predates your partnership. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of maintaining your relationship while operating as a business partner. It’s not easy.

What Was Your Role Before the Partnership?

Maybe you and your partner were good friends before you got into business together. But once you got the business going, things changed. There is resentment and mistrust. There is tension. When you try to talk, you can feel the tension rise immediately.

Even more difficult is the family business partnership. Ask anyone who joined a business with a parent or sibling. That’s rough. Imagine having to talk with your dad about cutting his pay! Yikes.

Wear One Hat When Talking with Business Partner Says Chris Reich

When having a business conversation with your business partner, stay in the role of partner for the duration of the meeting.

Image created by Chris Reich using Canva

 We Wear a Hat When We Talk

With all these complex roles to play, which one do you take to your conversations with your business partner? Problems arise when we try to wear multiple hats or attempt quick changes in a single conversation. Switching roles causes confusion and can put you in a disadvantaged position. Let’s look at an example.

You are concerned that your partner is spending too much money and the business is suffering. You want to talk with your best friend and business partner about his spending so you start, “Did you get to the lake this weekend? We were going to go but I decided to work on the yard. By the way, do you think our sales are okay?” Worse yet, “I want to talk with you as a friend. I think you’re spending too much and the business can’t afford it.”  In both cases, the approach seems safe and non-threatening. The problem is that you are not coming into the conversation as a business partner; you’re starting the dialogue as a friend and switching roles after you get rolling. That causes the other person to raise their radar for what’s coming. This is particularly dangerous in family business partnership conversations. 

When a parent starts a business conversation acting the role of parent rather than as equal partner, it’s bound to cause imbalance.

When Having a Business Conversation, Wear Only Your Partnership Hat

You don’t have to be short with your partner but don’t mix your friendship with your business. Stick to the role of partner. Once the decisions are made based on sound business principles, you can switch to a friendship conversation. Just don’t jump back and forth. When you sit down to talk business, act like a partner.  When we communicate in our other roles, we can be disadvantaged. 

It may take some getting used to this but I promise you that it will help your business relationship.

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“When you need to have a a conversation about  business with your business partner, don’t confuse your friendship with your partnership.”

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Tip for Talking with Your Business Partner
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Tip for Talking with Your Business Partner
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We all fall into a role when in a conversation. It could be that of boss, daughter, parent, friend, or CEO. Select the proper role for a business conversation and stick with it. Read more...
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