The Seven C's: Danger Signs not to be Ignored

When Harry teamed up with Joe, everyone thought it was a business match made in heaven. Both loved the clothing business. Harry was a natural salesman with good design sense and Joe was a shrewd buyer and financial whiz. Together they opened a clothing store that showed every sign of becoming a franchise.

So why after just a year, when the flagship store was a big hit were they struggling with a costly and acrimonious divorce? Why were they talking about bankruptcy instead of the fall line -- when they talked at all?

One of the main reasons was a communications breakdown, which is all too common with partnerships. Few, however ever pay heed until it grows into a monster. The very things that made Harry and Joe such a perfect complement to each other were now tearing the business apart. It can happen in any partnership if great care is not taken. And here is where a business partnership coach comes in.

There are a number of danger signs that a business partnership may be about to crash and burn. Harry and Joe missed all of them. Visions that seemed similar differed when money was on the line. For instance Joe wanted a strong foundation and measured growth, while wheeling-dealing Harry wanted to strike hard while the iron was hot. As is typical in many partnerships, Joe needed a flamboyant frontman just as much as Harry needed someone steady in the back room, but their contrasting work styles bred irritation then conflict. The very nature of a partnership means that things can quickly get personal even in the most professional relationship.

Have you missed some or all of the warning signs that have spelled the end of business matches?


1. Communications Breakdown

2. Competitive, not complementary interaction

3. Conflict becoming the norm

4. Cumulative money problems

5. Control issues

6. Changing vision

7. Crisis management impaired by personal issues

Coaching is the answer here, but if your partnership has many or all of the Seven Cs, it may be too late to save.

The business partnership relationship is similar to the one between spouses: practical, emotional, financial, psychological, built on trust, and the list goes on. The problems tend to be the same as well: not appreciated, not gratified, equality issues, expectations not met, unfair division of labor, something happened to create distrust, etc.

Traditional family dynamics play a role in any business partnership but their potentially negative effects simply must be contained if goals are to be achieved and the business is to succeed.

No matter how well suited partners may be in goals, ideas, and dreams, there will always be differences which can turn into destructive forces. These differences may revolve not only around styles, but views of long and short term goals, equity issues in various arenas such as division of labor, financial reward, variations in risk tolerance, approaches to managing and marketing, inclusion of family members, relationships with other staff members, personality or philosophical approaches.

Needless to say, this not only makes for frazzled partners, but also plays havoc with profits. If you are in a partnership and want to avoid becoming a statistic in the future, consider partnership coaching.

Author's Bio: 

Dorene Lehavi, Ph.D. is principal of Next Level Business and Professional Coaching. She coaches Professionals and Business Partners and teaches teleclasses on techniques to break through barriers to the next level. Dr. Lehavi offers a complimentary coaching session so you can experience how coaching can work for you. Contact Dr. Lehavi at or on the web at Subscribe to Mastering Your Next Level monthly e-newsletter at