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Getting Along with Your Business Partner

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 18, 2006

In our experience, most problems in not getting along with your business partner stem from an inconsistency in expectations: You thought one thing and your partner thought another. The solution to this is clear — communicate, communicate, communicate! Develop a consistent vision and map out who’s doing what.

Sounds simple, right? Wrong! The reality is that business moves so fast and we get so consumed by day-to-day tasks that partners frequently formulate different expectations. And when they aren’t met, problems suddenly occur.

So how do you keep the communication open? Here are a few “tricks” we’ve discovered:

1) We make a point of frequently having lunch together outside of the office. This time away gives us a chance to talk.

2) We have dinner together with our spouses. When we talk business, our wives usually ask lots of questions, taking nothing for granted. As we answer their questions, we often find ourselves contradicting each other or realizing something that we haven’t talked about before.

3) When contradictions get too wide we force ourselves to stop, and as one of our mentors recommended, “step back and watch ourselves go by.” This allows us to recheck and reach a consensus on the direction we’re headed.

J.B. Schneider and Antonio Turco-Rivas
Woburn, Mass.

Reader Comments

Michael Thomas

May 28, 2006 11:39 PM

Agreed, keeping expectations clear between business partners can only come from frequent communication. In a fledgling start-up this is especially important as conditions, and even the direction of your business may change rapidly and often.

Our partners, for example, meet for breakfast at the local diner at the beginning and end of the work week. It works great for kicking around new ideas and tackling trouble spots.

Mike Thomas
If Then
Rochester, NY

Dr. Ingrid Schweiger

May 16, 2009 2:08 PM

How about seeing a relationship therapist/ psychotherapist together? I work with many business partners to facilitate communication, address problems and map out strategies and solutions together. Without a solid relationship that is growing, your business may not make it!
Dr. Ingrid Schweiger

Vinay Kumar

September 21, 2010 7:12 AM

Another reason is inconsistent expectations. I was in family business for nearly 20 years. Finally it fell apart. Lack of inconsistent expectations, double standards, differing work ethics...list goes on and on. Root cause of it all: Lack of effective communication. My biggest challenges weren't business related but rather partnership related. I used to constantly yearn for someone to talk to, someone who could help us dialogue difficult issues in a way that preserved both the relationship and the business. But not all partners wanted such an outsider. Eventually I just got fed up. So your post is dead on. Thank you.

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