Partnerships test friendships

   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?

A: Lee Iacocca

B: Bill Clinton

C: H. Ross Perot

D: Lassie

E: Death

 

    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 tell.
   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 alone.
   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.

 

 

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