A common theme I come across more often these days is how business owners looking to expand realise they need to find ways to take things to the next level and on many occasions feel the need to bring on a business partner to grow and scale. On the face of it, this can be a sensible approach as employing staff or outsourcing a key role can be an expensive proposition for a small business.
Whilst this can be an exciting period and can bring about a real sense of renewal, it can also present some other challenges that can understandably get overlooked and potential red flags kept under the radar. The other deeper more confronting issue that is less talked about is the mere fact that it addresses the stark reality that going solo can be a lonely endeavour. The latter point is one to pay particular attention to in my view, as this can result in following an away from motivation rather than taking a forward-looking approach.
It goes without saying that entering a formal partnership arrangement or adding a new company director and shareholder involves extensive contractual obligations that can have wider implications across personal and professional lives. It’s also worth reflecting on how these changes impact on the operational day to day dynamics and how cultural norms can get muddled. Then comes the challenge of aligning those underlying core values, which often becomes a major source of friction. If this sounds all too familiar in terms of close personal relationships such as a marriage, then you are reading this message correctly. These principles are no different and the effort required not just to make things work, but to adapt and thrive should not be underestimated.
I know it sounds like all I’m doing is listing the pitfalls of going into business with someone else, but I am actually a huge believer in how successful partnerships can transform a business and essentially be the major catalyst to creating a sustainable brand and a legacy that transcends its founders. Examples of this are too numerous to mention, but I still think some level of prudence should be applied with key risks considered before jumping in head-first.
What if I told you there was another option? What if you could receive many of the benefits that a business partner could provide but without significantly eating away at your financial-gains or the stress and hassle of answering to someone else. What if you didn’t need to compromise on your core values or waste precious energy on feeling guilty about who is doing more? What if you could literally walk away if things just weren’t working out and all that is required is a reasonable notice to terminate the relationship and move on?
You guessed it, I’m talking about a business advisor or coach who can demonstrate sound business acumen based on extensive experience and suitable qualifications to match. The part that becomes a little trickier, is finding one that you can truly connect with. A trusted advisor that can add diversity to the strategic thinking process and help close some of those knowledge gaps that prevent you from growing the business. One that will help you break apart those self-limiting beliefs or self-sabotaging behaviours and replace these with clarity and razor-sharp focus.
Again, I’m not saying this is the way to go by any means. If you find someone who not only compliments your skillset in a technical sense, but also aligns to your core values – then a formal partnership is a great way to go and a healthy solution to sharing the load. All I am advocating for is to think out of the square and explore all your options first.