“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, working together is success.” — Henry Ford
No one can do their best life alone, nor can a business do its best alone. Our lives and our businesses operate best within community — personal and professional community. That’s as it should be. However, this doesn’t just happen without intentionality. Personal and business relationships have to be deliberately cultivated. If they are not adequately cared for, problems arise, and the best versions of yourself and your business cannot emerge or be maintained.
To make my points for this article, I decided to take an “upside down” approach by showing you how NOT to maintain a valued business relationship. This is done ‘tongue-in-cheek.’ So, here’s “How To Lose A Valued Partner.”
1. Look Out For Yourself First, All The Time
The first and best way to lose a partner is to not consider your partner’s needs, to only care about yourself and your needs. Charity begins at home, right? Who cares if they don’t feel valued or respected, or don’t get any portion of the work-share with your client? Negotiate the most advantageous position for yourself first. And whatever you do, keep the best, most profitable work for yourself. Sharing the most desirable work with your partner will only encourage them, make them feel important, and that you care about their welfare. Puh-leez! Oh, and when things go well, make sure you take all the credit. The last thing you need is for your partner to begin to feel like they play an essential role in the business. I mean, really? However, if things go wrong, don’t hesitate to point the finger at your partner, especially with the client. Take care of yourself first!
2. Don’t Be Open Or Trustworthy, Be Suspicious
You’ve heard it said, “Knowledge is power!” It’s so true. Keep all the information about your client, their needs, any market insights to yourself. Don’t share it, for goodness sake. Your partner could use that to beat you out of future work. If you’re open and honest, they could take advantage of you. Keep your partner in the dark, at all times. Maintain your position of power. The last thing you need is for your partner to start innovating or showing creative energy solving the client’s needs. We don’t want the client thinking your partner is smarter than you. The less your partner knows, the better. And don’t be afraid to misrepresent yourself — just tell bold-faced lies to your partner if that’s what it takes to keep them out of the loop.
3. Show Them No Respect
If, by some freak of nature, you find that your partner has something valuable you want or need, take it! For example, if they have very talented employees that you wish were in your company, then poach them! You’re doing the employees a favor by giving them a better future with your company, right? If you see that your partner has a method, approach or other intellectual property that would be good to have, steal it! You’ll do a better job exploiting those assets than them, right? And if your partner starts coming to you with bleeding heart complaints about how they’re not respected, or how they’re mistreated, just disregard all of that. It’s not essential that your partner feel loved or respected! What is this anyway, a loving marriage?!?!
End Of Satire
In fact, a good business partnership is very much like a good marriage between two loving partners. You would do well to view it in just that way. The best partnerships I’ve ever enjoyed — both in purpose and profitability — were ones in which we each looked out for each other, were generous in work-share, and respected each other. I’ve even had partners come to me after we were well into a project to re-negotiate the work-share — TO GIVE ME MORE OF IT! My partner said he felt I should have more of the work-share because we deserved it, and he wanted our relationship to be long-term and not about short-term profits. Wow! That’s a valuable partner. We are still enjoying our partnership today, after many, many years.
Both life and business are wonderful when you have amazing partner relationships. Guard them carefully.
What do you think? Leave me your comments below. I’d love to hear from you.