once upon a time . . .

It usually begins with talented entrepreneurs partnering up ("entrepartners") to create a successful business.  They get along well, have complementary skills or other resources to contribute, and all want the same thing: a lucrative enterprise.  But sometimes, at some point, things fall apart.  When this happens, not only can the partners lose their roles and investments in the business they built, but also employees can lose their jobs and the customers can lose their products and services.  Partner conflict constitutes one of the top three reasons that businesses fail. But it doesn't have to be.

The Entrepartners' Advocate is here to help guide your partnership to calmer shores or, if you are just setting sail, to provide you with a map highlighting the best route for smooth sailing. Ultimately, you will learn to steer your own relationship.

 
 

The relationship between you and your partner is your company's greatest asset

Ask anyone who has ever been in a failed business partnership, and they will likely tell you it was almost as stressful and as painful--and equally as messy--as ending a marriage.  That's because these two types of relationships are not as different as you might think.  Both often start out as fairytale romances, with individuals assuming the best of the other and seeing only great possibilities.  Both relationships require investments of time, self, money, and effort, in pursuit of a common long-term goal. Both have in mind the joint creation of something beautiful and lasting.  And both can fall apart if the parties fail to focus on the relationship, which cannot grow if, for example, the parties are not aligned in their long- and short-term visions, or they don't communicate effectively, or they harbor unspoken expectations and resentments.  In order for a business to succeed, the parties must have a vision for their relationship, not just the fruits of their relationship.  As the relationship goes, so goes the investment in a successful company, a friendship between partners, the welfare of their employees, and loyalty of their customers.

Engaged couples often seek out pre-marital counseling to ensure they know their partners well enough to build a successful long-term relationship. Married couples in conflict will seek marriage counseling in a last-ditch effort to save their relationship. But how often are potential business partners or partners in conflict willing to do the same? If you are an entrepreneur partnered or thinking of partnering, your relationship has the potential to be not only your greatest business asset, but also one of the most important relationships in your life.  Protect it as if your success depended on it.

 
 

Who we serve

The Entrepartners' Advocate focuses on guiding three main categories of business partners toward more viable relationships.

 

potential partners

You need your partner's skills and she needs yours. And you like each other. What could possibly go wrong? If you've been in a failed partnership before, you probably already have at least one answer to this question.

Welcome to the "prelationship" stage! The Entrepartners' Advocate is here to help you learn to identify and navigate the common pitfalls often missed when potential partners focus too much on what it would feel like to have a successful business. Perhaps a previous failed partnership has left you anxious about history repeating itself. We want you to get it right this time.

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partnerships in conflict

You and your partner have worked hard to build the company, and now it feels like conflict threatens your investment--time, money, skills--in this business.  You can't seem to agree on even the most basic decisions (and frankly, it feels like it's your partner's fault). 

Partnering up is starting to feel like a huge mistake that will cost not only the resources you have already put in, but also your employees' livelihoods, your friendship with your partner, and products and services that your customers rely on. It might be a simple case of growing pains, or it might be worse than that.

Whatever the problem, let's get to the bottom of it so that you can find a better way forward.

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family businesses

A lot can be said for family businesses, and here's one thing that should be said: when a business is run more like a family than a business, it is poised for conflict between one or more members.  Does your family business includes several generations, siblings, and in-laws? Chances are that one or more family members feel unappreciated or taken advantage of, or like they are not getting what they deserve for their efforts.

It may take an objective third party to see the family dynamics as they play out in a business setting, and to help guide the key members to a better vision for the company. What happens in the family should stay in the family, not bleed into the family business.