Partnerships can be a great path for accelerating the process of successful performance in a small business. In my personal business coaching practice I have worked with partnerships. In the story I am going to share with you, this partnership was between two people.
Partnerships-Are Your Assets Complementary?
This partnership came about when two people in the same industry had an entrepreneurial seizure, so to speak, and decided to start their own business. One of the partners was exceptional at the operations and back office that were needed to support the business. The other partner was phenomenal at the marketing, sales and customer service.
If you were looking for complementary skill sets to accelerate small business growth this partnership had it. Most self-employed business owners are very skilled at some things and are lacking in other areas. The areas they are lacking in must be addressed in order for the business to grow. This can be achieved through hiring people, developing new skills, or both. As long as the business owner recognizes what needs to be done and addresses it then things are fine.
But in this partnership, even with complementary skills things weren’t fine.
Partnerships—Where Are The Gaps?
Although the two partners had complementary skills neither one of them had skills in one of the most critical areas for small business success, human resources. They were not good at hiring, reviewing and letting go of personnel.
When I arrived this is one of the first things that we addressed. We refined and enlarged the job descriptions, personnel policies, procedures, the review process and salary structure among other things.
This was good and it appeared we were building some momentum.
Partnerships—Who Is In Control?
Yes, we were building some momentum but we ended up getting stuck time and time again. Running a small business is more of an art than a science. You have to have systems but you have to have a good feel for managing people within the systems.
Unfortunately, this partnership had one flaw that kept things from moving forward. Both partners had equal power. They were 50/50. In their respective areas of expertise, one would readily defer to the other. But, in the area of human resources there was constant conflict.
One partner would want to terminate an employee while the other partner didn’t. Since neither one of them were competent in this area they would play upon each other’s weakness. Their relationship was becoming more distant.
Ultimately, we brought in a human resources consultant to evaluate the employees and to get both partners’ input. Whatever the human resources consultant decided would be the outcome. I am not saying this is the best way to do things.
From my experience, I truly believe that partnerships function better when one person has control. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying this will make them work. I am just saying that it gives them the opportunity to be better. Why? There is a definite chain of command. A definite chain of command is essential for the survival of any organization, including partnerships.