One of the most enjoyable and fun things I get to do as a CPA is help people start new business. The most horrifying part of my job is mitigating disputes between partners. It amazes me how many people come up with a wonderful idea for a business and then it falls apart because of disputes between partners. I have seen business endeavors pull apart best friends as well as marriages.
It is possible to make a partnership work and pull people closer together. There are two keys to this. First is having a dream in common – it is important that all the partners understand and champion the mission, values and vision of the business. The best way for this to happen is that they all contributed to designing those. The business plan must be developed by all the owners. Most of the time what I see is that one person has created the plan and the other was brought in as an afterthought. This is especially true when the business owner thinks their spouse wants to help – unfortunately they normally give the tasks they don’t like to the other partner and that may not be that persons best way to contribute to the business.
The second key is to play to the strengths of each person. Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars describes his partnership like this, “One ingredient that made my partnership with Kurt thrive was that we had similar ideas about business but brought completely different talents and skills to the table. Kurt was better at planning and supervising finances. He also enjoyed selling and marketing. I loved working in the shop and tweaking guitars, and dealing with production in general. I loved learning how to make new guitars. Neither one of us wanted to do the other’s job.”
Keep your eyes open for our upcoming workshop to help you and your partner get on the same page with your business plan. In the mean time send us your stories both good and bad of how your partnership works. We may feature you in an upcoming blog or possibly in our upcoming book.
Taylor, Bob (2011-02-04). Guitar Lessons: A Life’s Journey Turning Passion into Business (p. 48). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition.