Fixing Business Partnerships Gone Wrong – Step 2: Great Expectations

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The first year or two of owning a business with my friends was so exciting!  We were kicking butt, hiring people, got a cool office on South Beach and doing work with some high profile clients.  We were 25 and 26 year old entrepreneurs starting an agency in Miami…doesn’t it sound like a movie?!?!  Well, it was everything you can imagine plus more!

One day something happened that started a heated argument between myself and one of my partners.  We exchanged abusive emails for 1/2 a day, even copying our 3rd partner in who had nothing to do with it.  The emails got longer and longer, more bitter after each send.

In the early days when I first started the business, I thought I would have a perfect partnership automatically.  Oh boy was in for a ride for the next years.  I knew at this point the honeymoon period was over.

Remember MTV’s The Real World?  I love how the opening statement goes:  ‘When people stop being fake and start becoming real’.

That’s what happens in a partnership.  We all enter in with high hopes and expectations from our partners, and almost certainly go through seasons of disappointed, let downs, back stabbing, gossiping, side-taking, finger pointing, verbal and even physical abuse.

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Experience tells us business partnerships are harder than we think. As we grow in clients and revenue, eventually, we realize our initial ideas about business and management aren’t realistic and something needs to change or someone needs to leave this partnership.

The truth is that this disconnect in expectations is NOT A SURPRISE TO GOD.  You think he would make everyone different and not have lessons for us to break free from these great expectations?

The bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

In essence, Paul (the writer of Corinthians) is telling us that when our businesses were in their infancy, we thought one way.  But now that the enterprise is growing, its time to put those thought behind because God has so much more in store for us.

Our initial expectations must be replaced with biblical truth.

Your business partner’s ideas about communication, conflict resolution, management of people, spirituality, job roles, time off, pay structure, accounting, and myriad other business things were determined long before you came on the scene. But most partners never deeply explore these concepts intentionally.

I’m not an emotional intelligence expert and I don’t resolve conflict for partners for a living. I can only share my experiences both in marriage and in business partnerships (which are identical by the way).

What I know is that there has to be a pow wow to let this concept of expectations be known and to explore ideas about how you connect with your partners. What areas of disagreement or difference do you have in connecting, communicating, and the list of other ideas I mention 2 paragraphs before?

We can allow God to shape our great expectations for business in partnership so we can experience co-working in which God intended for us to interact and prosper.

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