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Sometimes for a business to start up, grow and succeed, you may need to go into a partnership. However, Partnerships are breeding grounds for conflict because everyone is a chief, or thinks they are. Business partnership can be compared to a marriage because there are quite a few similarities that require mutual trust, respect and money to achieve a common goal. But the truth is that partnership is far more difficult to maintain than marriage. In fact, whereas 50% of marriages end in divorce, the number is closer to 80% for business partnerships. Business partnerships break apart all the time, whether it’s a large company or garage-based startups. Why is that?

Here are seven reasons why they don’t make it.

1. HIT HARD TIMES: Plain and simple, some people just can’t take the heat. The problem is, it’s hard to know who can or can’t take the pressure of building a business during those lean months (sometimes years) when you are trying to get the business off the ground, without actually going through that tough period with them. Being an entrepreneur is volatile, especially in the beginning. It’s damn hard, and stressful. So if you’re thinking about partnering with someone who is used to receiving a pay cheque, you’re going to have rid that partner’s employee mentality from their psyche.

If possible, don’t partner with anyone who has had a steady pay cheque for more than a couple years. Don’t partner with someone who has a family if you don’t have one yourself. And don’t partner with someone who is accustom to the finer things in life. Form a partnership with a grinder. Form a partnership with someone who has something to prove, is smart and hungry. Form a business partnership with someone who doesn’t mind drinking garri after putting in a 12 hour work day…

2. TOO MANY COOKS:If partners have identical skill sets, the business is doomed. Time will be wasted, resources depleted, and conflict will likely be constant.
Every restaurant only has one executive chef. And that executive chef isn’t the same person producing the marketing content, training the serving staff and selecting the decor. The same concept goes for any other business. Form a partnership with someone who is excellent at vital skills you aren’t so good at. Leave your ego at the door.

3. THE VISIONARY AND THE VAGABOND: Seriously though, this is an important one. Both partners can be completely committed to success, willing to grind out the tough times together, have complimentary skill sets, and still end up failing. Here’s why: One partner is steadfast, staying on course and focused on achieving goals systematically, one at a time; while the other comes up with one great idea after another, yet never follows through long enough to see any idea come to fruition.

You can’t form a successful business partnership with someone who wants to walk before they crawl. Ideas are great, but execution and discipline is what matters in building a successful business. The good thing is, people who jump from one idea to the next are often easy to identify. Just hang out with them for a few days and you’ll see what I mean.

4. THE DICTATOR:Some people just like to nag. They like to tell people what to do. This doesn’t work in a business partnership, or any partnership for that matter. Don’t even think about partnering with someone who is a know it all, or likes to argue, or has a complex. Dictators often end up in nasty business partnership disputes.

5. DIFFERENT VALUES:Your brand, no matter what industry you operate in, will reflect your personal values. So if you partner with someone who doesn’t share your same personal values, the business is doomed from the get-go. Don’t overlook this one.

6. TEAMS CHANGE: Things can change fast in any business, where, over time, you feel like you’re re-introducing yourselves and your teams to each other again because of turnover. Make sure you keep in contact with your partners on a regular basis. Weekly check-ins or reports work really well to make sure you’re both top of mind with each other; plus, you might find that you’ve got ideas to make it even better.

7. HAVE A CONTRACT IN PLACE: Partnerships can really work, but they have to be cared for. One more thing: Having a contract in place is a great idea. This way, if the partnership doesn’t work out for any reason, you or your partner can point to a piece of paper and call it quits. Have an “out” clause that says you can get out of the partnership if explicit expectations are not met. Neither of you want to be part of a partnership that isn’t working out; after all, time is money and cutting your loss and moving on might be just what you need.This way, they’ll be thinking more about how to make the partnership a success.

– Olutayo Faloye

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