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When I thought about the business partnership phenomenon, I remembered the movie The mighty.
The story revolves around two teenagers: Max, a silent and clumsy giant, and Kevin, nicknamed ‘Freak’, a small, smart boy who moved on crutches due to an illness. They were constantly mocked and bullied at school. After another incident, the boys decided to fight back against their classmates by uniting in a giant knight. Kevin climbed onto Max’s shoulders and became the mastermind behind which the stocky giant crushed the attackers.
Going from the literal to the metaphorical, The mighty remains one of my most essential collaborative films. It reveals the most crucial part of the partnership, which I call the multiplication of talents. Let’s break this down and a few more essentials for effectively managing a business partnership.
Related: Everything You Need to Know About Business Partnerships
1. Divide responsibilities
If two people run the company and both have the same vision of plans for development or to get out of this or that situation, it makes no sense. Each of you should not do everything – you should focus on your primary skills.
Another managing partner of our holding company and I have different competencies. For example, I am an economist by profession. I look for investors and bring companies to new markets. I mainly manage our projects in Europe and Asia as I have been working in these markets for more than 10 years.
On the other hand, my business partner deals with strategic planning. He lives in the US and mainly manages our projects there. He is a computer systems engineer by profession which is one of the reasons why his favorite projects are technology based.
What good is such a division of responsibilities? First, we are building a diversified portfolio of multi-vector assets, making the business increasingly sustainable. Secondly, this is a more convenient way of managing a team: employees at all levels know who to turn to with which question. And thirdly, this way we keep the right distance and do not control each other on a micro level or excessively. Development requires space, so we give it to each other.
Our cooperation is based on the principle of “doing what works best”. And it works: the company grows from year to year.
Related: 8 Critical Considerations When Choosing the Right Business Partner
2. “Don’t Hold the Blanket”
A business partnership is somewhat similar to a marital relationship. It is important that partners understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to deal with them.
If both partners are unable to let go of control or admit their weaknesses, they will almost 100% “take the blanket” from each other – that is, they compete to take over most of the powers without regard with the interests of the partner . But in competition, partners weaken each other and the joint project.
The signals that partners give to employees, especially the CEO, are very important. C-level managers see the struggle between founders as a norm for relationships in the company and a model for managing subordinates. If you notice that your employees lack independence in making decisions, it is often due to the example they follow.
The ideal version of a business relationship is for your partner to be equal in strength and personality and different in habits and ideas. Based on our collaborative experience, I know that the air between you can sometimes become electrified, but the best solutions are born in such friction.
Related: 3 Steps to Creating Powerful Business Partnerships
3. Give your partner the right to make a mistake
“Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan,” said John F. Kennedy. In a business relationship, partners should be responsible for each other’s decisions. If they blame each other for bad decisions, they won’t last long together. Failures should be a reason to jointly review the strategy and work on errors.
Flat tires and failed investments are constant companions of entrepreneurs. About two dozen startups my partner and I invested in burned down. If we had argued after every failure, we wouldn’t have built a great international company.
It takes time to develop the right attitude towards failure. We used to fight for every startup, but we’ve become more pragmatic over time. If the quarterly reports do not match, the market indicators have fallen and there are no conscious growth forecasts, we decide to close such a company.
Related: The 4 basic principles of any successful partnership
4. Enjoy your cooperation
Partners can be an effective team and make good money together. But it’s just as important how they feel about the process and this relationship.
The satisfaction of working together is the glue of partnerships. Admiration for a partner’s talents and the joy of working together can save a company even in difficult times. The ability to enjoy indicates security and thus the ability to trust. Trust is built through mutual support during upheavals, sincerity and consideration for the person you are doing business with.
You should be able to have fun together. I have been very lucky with my partner because it is interesting to discuss new books and research with him and discuss the development vector of our projects. And since we argue quite often, it’s critical that the shared emotional foundation is solid.
All the nuances of partner interaction are reflected directly in the business. There are many personal things in a productive business partnership, and emotional comfort weighs no less than the number of deals or the value of common assets. At the same time, mature partnerships are not a godsend, but daily joint work. I hope the principles I’ve shared will help you make this job easier and more fun.