The key to all success in business partnerships is communication. Without clear and consistent communication, your business will not grow and succeed. You will miss opportunities, miscalculate your partner’s expectations, and potentially move into opposite directions. It’s a blueprint for failure. Instead, follow the simple path: communicate.
That’s it. In over twenty years in business, capitalizing on our strengths in multiple income streams, culminating in Easier Accounting and Real Business Owners, Kale Goodman and I have found communication to be the key to make or break our day-to-day operations and our long-term success.
Let’s look at several scenarios in partnerships to see how this plays out. As you read, picture your own business in these situations, and grab keys to avoid major mistakes and create wins.
Situation 1: Partners who “get each other” too well
Maybe you’ve worked together for years, like Kale and I. Or maybe you’ve been friends for a long time before teaming up. Either way, you now take each other for granted. You are both too busy making the business run. You don’t communicate the same way as you used to. At the beginning, it was easy. Maybe you are like us in our early days. You spend 90% of the time making deals and having fun, and 10% of the time doing the hard-knuckled decisions. Now, you just don’t have the same time anymore.
Or, maybe it’s a step further. Maybe you trust each other too much. There’s a disconnect because there is so much trust between two people. You may think that whatever he’s doing, it’s going to be good. You figure you can read your partner’s mind. You stop asking questions and checking in with each other.
But, the best intentions don’t guarantee the best results. A partnership should become a camaraderie where two people knowingly divide and conquer. It can’t be that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. The best results come from clear communication.
One specific problem that can come from this familiarity is overcommitment. Overextending leads to disappointment. You start making decisions independently, assuming you can make it all happen because there is more than one of you. You just keep saying yes. You’ll run out of steam for all of those yesses. Then everyone is frustrated, and no one wins.
Success does not allow for such imbalance. Partnerships have to establish a flow of communication that sets up boundaries for what one can and cannot take on, so that no one leaves disappointed.
Situation 2: Partners who have “too many” ideas running wild
You have tons of ideas, but haven’t spent the time either sitting down to implement them or deciding who is going to run with them. Partnerships are usually forged by two individuals who are like iron sharpening iron. They make each other better. Often, they think a lot alike, but they may have different perspectives on the ideas, how to implement them, or where to go with them.
The question, then, becomes: who runs with a new idea? How does it shake out? If it is going to be successful, these questions must be answered before the idea begins to fly, not on the fly. Otherwise, it could end in a lot of disagreement and wasted time. Since time is money in our world, communication must happen first to succeed.
“The best partnerships aren’t dependent on a mere common goal but on a shared path of equality, desire, and no small amount of passion” – Sarah MacLean
Situation 3: Partners who make assumptions about their vision
Let’s say the present or the future is in jeopardy. What if the vision is changing for one of the partners? You can’t win the game if one player decides to peace out and jump to another game altogether. What if he or she wants another end result?
The partners begin drifting apart. It may not even be a conscious decision to go different directions. The currency of life could make a drift happen. But perhaps they do want to throw in the towel.
You’ve got to come back together and agree to the same goal, the same North Star. Do you have the same goal for the next year? The next 3 years? The next 5? What is the vision for expansion and growth? How do you want to disrupt the industry? If you fail to communicate, each party might start to wonder if the other partner is really on the same page.
That uncertainty creates friction. Frustration builds up, seeps into relationships and decision-making. It sucks the life out of the partnership. Communication is king. So communicate. It’s not complicated.
Situation 4: Partners who run on autopilot, without auditing for success
One must communicate to keep the business strong. Once you get to a certain level, it’s easy to start making assumptions and let the company coast a bit. It’s not exactly being lazy. It’s just being comfortable with the systems you put in place. The problem is you might find areas that just aren’t working anymore, and yet no one is taking the time to communicate about how to get rid of them. It only takes a moment to speak with your business partner to assess what parts of the business are working, and what parts are holding it back.
Often, it’s time to cut the fat. You’ve got to learn to serve at the highest level for the highest good of your clients. Ultimately, that serves both your clients and your business best. It serves you best. That means you and your partner must communicate to streamline. Outsource. Eliminate.
Often this requires humility. Partnership is not about ego. It’s actually about continual refinement and willingness to grow. You can’t be a lone wolf in a business and expect to lead the pack. Leaders are servers, and often the best leaders communicate in a way that encourages others to speak up so that they don’t miss something important in the day-to-day operations.
I want to know if there’s something I could do better that I’m not doing, even as an 7-figure earner and owner of a busines that does 8 figures in revenue. Simple solutions can be chosen in a matter of minutes if you talk with your partner with the goal to succeed.
In the end, all business and non-business partnerships boil down to a few simple questions. If we narrow down our vision, clarify and sync up, we can be the best of the best in our field, regardless of the economy or market trends. Sit down and have a conversation. Ask each other: what are your intentions? Why do you have those intentions? Why is this project or goal a priority? When you communicate the answers to those questions, you can understand perspectives and move forward together. A business partnership leads to success by knowing each others’ strengths, sharing a vision, cutting the fat, and most of all, clearly communicating