One of the greatest things about being in business for yourself is having the flexibility that enables us to make alliances, and work with other businesses to provide a full range of services for our clients. In fact this can greatly increase our visibility and introduce ourselves to new clients whom we may never have encountered if we continually moved in our own small circles.

Along with this opportunity comes the challenge of choosing the ‘right’ people to work with. Finding people you can build trusting relationships with is important. Often a good alliance can turn into a great partnership later for another project or business.

Forming alliances is one of the first things I counsel people with ‘no business’ to do. Helping others helps ourselves. Today Roaring Women has formed an alliance with Heidi Cowie, a Roaring Women member to write this week’s business tip on working with a partner. Enjoy!

So You Say Your Business Partner is Driving You Nuts

Starting a business with a partner is like any other relationship…with a twist. It can be quite expensive both financially and emotionally to walk away from the partnership. In addition, the increased workload and possible loss of funding may cause stress that no one has the energy with which to deal.

As in all relationships, the ability to maintain equilibrium by fair and just business practices requires effort on both sides. Without equilibrium, the relationship, and your business, could be in jeopardy.
The question then remains, how do some people succeed at partnerships and others struggle?

1. Establish clear boundaries: Decide who does what, when, where, and how and then stick to those boundaries. Often this can be difficult particularly if the partner is a family member or a friend. Some clients have had great success in establishing contracts that clearly establish boundaries. You not only keep the work load in balance, but also your emotions.

2. Clarification vs. confrontation: Most of us avoid confrontation but do not spend enough time with clarification. We may think that clarifying a need or request may be confrontational. A simple statement can clarify and dispel future misunderstandings. For example, “I think I may not fully appreciate what you are asking. Could you explain it a bit further?” Clarification achieves two purposes. First, we know exactly what is expected of us. This eliminates the danger of mind reading which leads to misunderstanding. Secondly, it keeps the path of communication open and honest which is integral to a healthy partnership.

3. Effective Communication: People feel respected when they feel they are heard. Listening without interrupting is a fundamental rule of active listening. Often, this can be tough when we feel strongly in our opinions however; listening allows us to gather all the facts which we can then use to relay our message.

Whether we are choosing a partner in a professional or personal relationship, there are fundamental elements that need to be present. Your partner ought to share similar, if not the same values with regard to financial matters, work ethic, family responsibilities, and goals. If these values are in direct contrast to your own, friction is a sure outcome.

In some circumstances, we may choose individuals who seem to have capabilities that we do not see in ourselves. In this case, try to ensure that these abilities compliment your strengths rather than compete with them.
Attempt to create a balance between knowledge and personality when choosing a business partner. If an individual has the ability and willingness to learn, training them in the complexities of your business is a realistic expectation. On the contrary, if the individual, who may come highly trained, has a personality not in keeping with you, then the relationship is doomed. Despite some opinions, the essence of a personality can not be changed. Agreed, there are elements that can be tweaked to make someone more personable however; under stressful situations, we revert to what we know and feel comfortable being.

Finally, although you may have judiciously chosen a partner, unforeseen circumstances may change your relationship. The fact is…life goes on. Cut your ties as amicably as possible and carry on with what you know best- building your business. Remember to consider boundaries, clarification, and communication. Choose a person of like mind and personality that compliments your strengths. Be willing to invest the time to train if the personality is a match.

"One of the keys to effective communication and dispute resolution is understanding ourselves and how we think and also understanding how others are wired as well. Each of us has personality styles that are unique to ourselves - however there are also patterns as well. When you understand the differing personality styles and their blends - you begin to see people as they are with more understanding! For more information on understanding personality styles please contact Mandie at"

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Author's Bio: 

Mandie Crawford is a marketing expert, business coach, trainer and motivational speaker who was recently awarded Calgary Business Woman of the Year for her contributions to the business community.

Mandie also has skills and expertise in providing high quality guidance in time management and system implementation for small a medium sized businesses. Her passion as a business and professional development coach is to helps women recognize their value and self worth.

She is the President of Roaring Women Ltd which is Canada’s premier national business support group for women in business that focuses on connecting, promoting and educating women in business. In her goal to encourage and educate women in building business across the country, she launched and completed a 6 week coaching tour in partnership with Staple Business Depot in 2008 where she coached over 600 women in business.

Mandie is mother to four children and 3 stepchildren and one highly energetic chocolate lab! Ms Crawford is also a former award winning police officer with Halton Regional Police.