Fixing Business Partnerships Gone Wrong – Step 1: Back to Basics

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Step Back Start Again Concept

In 2005 I formed a 3-way partnership with two of my really good friends.  One was a graphic designer, one was a website developer, and I was the Cornell University business graduate that was supposed to know what he was doing when it came to running a business.

So naive yet full of energy and excitement, the three of us desired to leave the corporate life and take control of our lives.  We had visions of growing an agency full of the best creatives and doing amazing work for our clients.  The name of the company spoke our hearts desire:   The Creative Complex.  We sought to build, literally, a fun place to work with ping pong tables and games and a relaxed working atmosphere.

We really did want it to work out….but….

You can probably fill in the story from here based on your experience in partnerships.  We all desire one thing when we start, but things change.  People change. Visions change.  Plans change.  Circumstances change.  We change.  And when you start making money, hearts change.

So what happens when partnerships go bad?  What can we do to bring them back to life?  How can we….just go back to when we first started?

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What I’ve discovered over repeated failed and successful partnerships is a key to cracking the partnership code.  This key, when applied, can help unlock restoration and a renewed sense of hope in the business.

Revelation 2:4 in the bible says

But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!  Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand and from its place among the churches.

The key I’ve found is that we have to go back to the basics, back to why we started this, back to our first days of excitement.

In your marriage, you reminisce on the dating, wedding and honeymoon and all of the sudden the fighting stops and there’s peace (for a little).

It’s the similar concept in business.

So here are some practical steps to going back.

  1. Re-reading the business plan together:  Where you start in business largely determines where you’ll end up. You can make significant progress and possibly avoid conflict if you spend some time thinking about what you hoped for most at the start.  (And if you don’t have a business plan, well now you know why the partnership is failing.  How can we expect the business to fulfill our dreams and expectations if they aren’t articulated or well defined? Create a business plan together.)
  2. Dream brainstorm:  after the meeting above, then dream together of the future.  See yourselves succeeding.  The Bible says God has plans for you to prosper.  This is true for your partnerships too!

The process of investigating and sharing our deepest desires for business is on-going.  We need to make it a habit to do a periodic mental exploration together to think about the dream you had of what business would be like when you were starting.

Add a RECURRING event in your calendar to at least have a yearly looking back meeting followed up by a looking forward meeting.  And if you can do it 2-4 times a year, EVEN BETTER!  The more we get to know each other and communicate, the better chance we have at restoring and strengthening our business partnerships.

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