How to Align With Your Partners

If a plane has two pilots, and they both think they’re going to different places, there’s going to be big problems.  

No difference in a business. 

The biggest problems I see when working with businesses with multiple decision makers is them being unclear on where they are going.  

This makes decisions, both short and long term, incredibly difficult.  And no wonder right?

Back to the plane analogy, if two people think they’re going to the same place, but they’re actually preparing for two entirely different destinations, it’s going to get weird.   

So here’s how to get to your destination with as little turbulence as possible.  

Get clear on where you’re going.

This feels like an incredibly risky move, but both of you need to separate and create your own vision for the next 5-10 years.  What the business looks like, who you’re serving, how many staff you have, how many locations you have, what each of you are doing in the day to day, etc.

Then, you need to come back together, and talk about your respective visions.  

If you’ve been smart/lucky enough to partner up with someone who shares your vision, you’re probably not too far off.  

But you still need to talk through the differences, no matter how small.  The nice thing here is that most of the time, slight differences can be ironed out or clarified in a way that makes everything fly smooth again.

If you’re not quite so lucky, and both of you think you’re headed to completely opposite places, you’ve got some work to do, starting with some big decisions.

Those decisions should include whether or not you want to continue on this business together, and how you’ll handle it if not.  While this might suck, and you might be cringing even reading about it, I promise you that it’s way better to do it now than later.  The bigger you build this thing on the wobbly foundation you’ve created, the worse it’s going to be later.

If you decide to cease working together, an accountant and an attorney should make up your next stops.

If you can iron it out enough to want to continue together, great!  You need to go back to the point above and iron out the differences in destination.  

Again, the earlier you do this, the better. 

So, if you’re a partner in a business, and you aren’t clear on the direction you’re going with your partner, send them an email right now and say, “hey!  We’ve never talked about how this is going to look in a few years, can we take some time to do that?”

You’ll thank me someday.