The subject of todayís
lesson is "What Type of Person Makes a Good Business Partner?"
Weíll start with a quick quiz.
Question: If you could
choose one of the following to be an equal partner in a business which you
were starting, whom (or what) would you choose?
C: H. Ross
While all have merit,
most business people who have been involved in partnerships would
obviously choose death before entering into another. The second choice
would naturally be Lassie. Sheís rich enough to provide capital when
needed and would leave most of the decision-making to you. Her
tail-wagging could become a morale booster and if her barking got out of
hand she could always be muzzled.
Still, having been through a couple of
tumultuous partnerships. I think Iíd go with death over Lassie. Dogs are
darn faithful, but theyíve never been truly tested in a business
partnership. Iíd hate to see Lassie snarl and snap.
As you might gather, I am no fan of
partnerships. And I know Iím not alone. Everyone seems to have a
horrible, gut-wrenching story to tell about how they were absolutely
snookered by their former partner or partners.
Iíve certainly got a few stories to
I had partners for 12 relatively
peaceful years. The business grew and prospered and I was generally left
alone. But something was eating at me.
I had an undeniable urge to do
something on my own, without sharing anything with anyone. So I did,
branching out into another business, leaving my partners behind. I had
total independence and total freedom. I also had some original partners
who did not take kindly to being forgotten.
Relations became increasingly strained
until it reached the point where no one wanted anything to do with the
other. So the partnership broke up, the assets divided, and I suddenly had
no partners at all.
And oh, did it ever feel good.
The episode made me realize that some
people are cut out to survive and prosper in partnerships, and some are
not. Quite simply, I was a lousy partner.
Others, like my friend Simpson, make
great partners. In fact, the only partner Simpson was unable to get along
with during his many years in business was me.
About 10 years ago we entered into a
partnership that came perilously close to ruining our lifelong friendship.
When the partnership dissolved we vowed never to share assets and/or
liabilities again with each other.
But while I embarked on a mission to
eliminate all partners from my life, Simpson did no such thing. He
welcomed more partners into his life and continues to do so. And he gets
along famously with all of them.
He wouldnít think of opening a
business without partners. The advantages of increased capital,
risk-spreading and talent-pooling far outweigh the disadvantages, such as
the possibility heíll go insane.
Simpson enjoys having partners. He
loves the camaraderie. He is about to open a business with five equal
partners, all of whom bring a particular expertise to the enterprise.
While I could think of few greater tortures, he sounded genuinely excited.
And heíll most likely pull it off. Heíll
compromise, soothe wounded egos and play the diplomat when the inevitable
conflicts occur. Heíll find a way to make it work because he wants to
grow and expand and itís his conclusion that heíd rather not do it
I wouldnít mind growing and
expanding, but Iíll have to take a slower route. After years of trying
to rid myself of partners, Iím certainly not eager to bring in new ones.
That means Iíll be forced to pass up some opportunities.
Thatís a small price to pay. As a certified
Bad Partner, I know I really donít have much choice. While a few, like
Simpson, manage to thrive in partnership settings, most of us eventually
find a way to make ourselves miserable.
Since Iíve been on my own, Iíve
never felt so whole. I realized that I am not cut out to share the
decision-making and the rewards that a partnership entails.
I only wonder how my wife will react to the
news that I ran off with Lassie.