Hello, Dr Ro, here. Today’s discussion is about this subject, handshakes.
More specifically, two people meeting and having a partnership having a working relationship.
Here is a topic that for many years has been coming up and down and people say to me, Dr Ro how do I choose my business partners? What do you look for? What things should I be considering?
It came up recently, about two weeks ago and then just recently on a message I got from a friend of mine.
Let me tell you a story around 2006, 07 I went into a business partnership and I chose to work with this specific person for several reasons. I liked him.
We got on well, we did things together outside in terms of activities, social activities, adventure et cetera, we had a good relationship in that respect. We had a lot of aspirational ideas and those aspirational ideas led to the formation of a couple of businesses and what I didn’t really appreciate is the challenge you have sometimes when you get to know somebody well in a friendship, you can have blind spots.
I missed this person spending behaviour and things that he was saying that didn’t necessarily align with his actual behaviour. There was quite a lot of bravado and quite a lot of BS as well going on in the background, and I didn’t necessarily pick that up because I was really focused on whether we can do this, we can build this amazing business. And it cost me a lot of money, thousands and thousands of pounds, in money plus lost time, probably a year and a half worth of time.
Opportunities, projects that were started but then had to fall by the way, very painful experience and what I found during that learning experience was that I had to reflect on myself a lot and look at the core values of how I was showing up, how this person was showing up, and also listening to that inner voice which I think I had if you like quietened down.
Because I was in pursuit of success, money, and this happened a couple of times to be fair, there has been others since then, but in a different way and again every time there’s been a challenge in business it’s because I’ve ignored the signs. I was interviewed on stage going back a few years now, a large stage event, 4,000, 5,000 people. Myself an American speaker and a few others I won’t name them but we were on the stage and people were asking direct questions and one of the questions was what’s one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in business?
My response to that was chasing money literally setting the business up working with people without necessarily really getting aligned with them and being clear that my vision and my purpose and my values were aligned with theirs, and seeing through any BS that might be coming out. I was focused on making a profit and money. Why am I telling you this story?
First of all, it was freaking painful a relationship that never got mended, it affected several people on a personal level, family, et cetera. If you’re excited about going into business with somebody I’m really pleased for you, but that doesn’t mean to say the right person to go into business with, which comes back to the question I was asked. These aren’t the definitive four things in fact you could double it.
Number one be clear on the outcome that you want.
What do you want out of this business relationship? This person is selling on an idea you connect with them or it might be the other way round. Maybe they’ve got money and you’ve got the idea either way, you’ve got to know what the outcome of this is. In two, three, five years’ time what do you want to experience from the specific relationship financially, emotionally, intellectually, and there’s more than just one thing which is money when it comes into business.
Yes, that’s the functionality of the business and we want to be profitable but specifically, what do you want this to look like? How do you want it to feel? How do you see the shape of this relationship going? And remember business with somebody else is always going to be a relationship, so let’s not ignore that and how do you want to play out for you?
Think about what this is going to look like for you on a personal level, on a business, family level how could you see it working with this person? So describe it, write it down and be clear about that because that’s what you need to bring to the table when you have a conversation with that person.
Number two is what are their values and what are your values? What are your core values in business and what are your core values on a personal level? Undoubtedly there will be a crossover and there should be truth, honest, integrity, determination. What I mean by values is it’s something you want to feel more, I want to feel more vibrant, integrity, I want to feel more persistent, I want to feel more success. I want to feel happier and anything you feel you can attach a meaning to.
So what do you value most when it comes on a personal level for example you might value family time and you also value the fact that your business provides you with that, but in business you value something different. You might value hard work, you may value tenacity, you may value somebody being brutally honest, you may value somebody having integrity. Then you’ve got to look at their values on a personal level, their values in business and it needs to be an open conversation. Tell me about your family life. So how do you deal with the balance between business and family?
If you’ve got a rule of thumb, which is you value family first over business, you value time with your family and not giving up certain things for the sake of the business. If you value that and they say well you know what I love my business and my family but I don’t mind sticking my head down and getting the stuff done and working right through the year and skipping holidays. I don’t mind that because I know we’re going to build a business.
Well, that’s great, but how does that feel for you and what if that affects their personal life and family life? What if that has an effect on your business? What’s their integrity like? Are they open at an early stage talking about their financial situation and being transparent about it or are they more guarded about it? Have you spoken to other people that have been in business with them and checked to see how that relationship was? I get this question quite a lot, what do you think Dr Ro?
It is not my place to make a comment about what I think but what I can do is make an objective statement and say this was my experience. But you may have to reach out because you’ve got to make sure there’s genuine alignment. It can’t be bullshit alignment. This is what I’ve discovered over the years personally for me people are blowing smoke up my arse to try and keep me happy and I have seen this countless times.
As I’ve got older now in my 50s I get to see and it’s quite funny because people do not realise I can see it, and sometimes what I do is allow them to play that game with me and just enough for me to see the true colours of who they are. That might sound a bit strange to do, but when you’ve been shafted enough times over the years and you’re not going to get to 50, 55, 60 be in business and not had bad experiences.
They must have had something that hasn’t gone quite as well as it should have done and it would have been based on a set of decisions they made, most likely working with somebody, only to discover afterwards I wish I hadn’t worked with that person. That’s the conversation you’ve got to go back to. Why didn’t wouldn’t it have worked? Why didn’t it work? Why do you wish you never worked with that person? Because these are their values, beliefs, their attitude. Those types of things.
Number three is their vision. How is their vision? How does their vision align with your item number one, your outcome that you are looking for? They may have a vision for personal life different from the business, which is great, and that’s what you want and similar for you. But how do the two cross over? How does your world crossover together in that world of business and how are you going to show up? What are you going to bring to the table?
How do you want the vision of the business to be? Do you want it to be a hands-on or hands-off business? Do you want to be involved in it or do you want to be building it and then stepping away? Are they somebody who is more creative? How do they communicate? Are they a grower? Do they have a vision for bringing people from the outside to allow the business to grow?
All these types of things you should be asking if you have a slight intuition that something is not right here that’s where you need to press the pause and bring the magnifying glass out here.
Number four see the end game.
If you had a niggle with that person how would it play out? That’s what happened to me. I had niggles and I ignored those niggles, I was like quite why did I not spot this? But I was younger then in my 30s so you grow, you learn you and that is why it’s nice when people reach out and ask what do you think about this Ro? This is the benefit of learning and growing from older people who have had a bit more wisdom and more experience. See what the endgame is.
How will the endgame look? What I mean by that is run the scenario of working with this person. How will it look? How will it be operationally? How will we interact? If we sit down and talk at the meetings will they listen to me or not? I spoke to a lady last year who felt her husband was being manipulated by somebody and this person was very persuasive, and she saw straight through it. But her husband couldn’t obviously so there’s another point as well. Maybe you are somebody that you know that you trust to give you their objective opinion.
Sometimes people pay me to sit down and do an assessment of their business or their current circumstances. But you can go to people who are close to you. Maybe someone you really love dearly and who cares about you enough to say, well, if I’m honest, I’ve got a gut feeling about this. Something doesn’t feel right, or this feels amazing. Have a third person look at it, have somebody be a silent witness.
Hopefully that was useful, Dr Ro signing out.
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