If I look back on the successes, and more importantly the failures, I think the biggest takeaway I’ve learned in being patient in finding the right business partner.
I’m guilty of getting very excited by new opportunities, especially ones that have the potential of turning into a successful, profitable, and sustainable business. But just like a romantic relationship, when you are starting with a new business partner, people are usually on their best behavior during the courtship and honeymoon phases. What I have learned, and I can’t stress enough to fellow entrepreneurs, is the importance of really getting to know a potential partner before you start a new venture.
It’s easy to be a partner when business is going well but when things go wrong or difficult decisions need to be made people react in unexpected ways. I’ve had business partners abusing drugs, who have had anger management issues, most have lied to me, one physically threatened me, and many have stolen from me or our company. These were all situations that could have been avoided if I paid attention to the little red flags along the way.
You can tell a lot about someone by how they live, eat, relate to others – and how they relate to themselves. You should be aware of how your partner handles stress in their personal and business lives. Someone can have all the experience and connections in the world, but if they are incapable of managing stress in a healthy way, then there will be an inevitable breakdown in communication and productivity.
My suggestion is to vet your partner’s personal and professional lives before any formal partnership. Look at what they post online. If they post about material things like money and cars then maybe they are likely to skim off the top of your business. If they frequently eat fast food, smoke and drink alcohol then perhaps they will be more prone to illness or low energy? And if you find yourself noticing red flags along the way seek some advice on how to navigate the situation so the small red flags don’t turn into huge red roadblocks.
Over the three year process of selling the book concept to McGraw-Hill and actually writing Ditch The Act, I had the opportunity to deep dive into the concepts of the book – to be more human and not be afraid to be vulnerable.
Being vulnerable is something I continue to work toward on a daily basis but while I was writing the book I really learned to explore and listen to my feelings and emotions. I became more connected with myself which actualized my prior working relationship with my co-author and ex-business partner, Leonard Kim.
Leonard taught me a lot about how to push past my comfort zones to connect with others. But like starting a business, writing a book is intense and in this case, revealed major weaknesses in our working relationship. Through really living what we were writing I was able to identify that I was not happy with the direction our partnership had taken. The negatives overshadowed the positives and I could not move forward if I was not honoring the principles of the book – so I chose to leave our company in December 2019.
I learned not to be afraid of making tough decisions because at the end of the day I needed to honor my feelings. And yes, that made me more vulnerable. I was concerned about the optics. I was concerned about how we would sell a book when our partnership did not work out. I still get anxious about promoting the book because of the choices that he has made since I left the company. But the reality is that I practice what I speak and write on, and that is honoring the good, the not so good and what makes me human – and I’ve learned and continue to be reminded that we are all just human.