It’s been 3 years since Julianne and I formed our business partnership, AsiaAus Leaders. We danced around a bit before then (perhaps we weren’t really ready) but after a while, the partnership just seemed to click.
Having a business partner is so much more than an opportunity to share the risk, the load, the spoils and the business plan. While we share the same vision for our business, our relationship is also filled with emotional investment, not on a friendship basis, per se, but with a desire to see each other’s goals manifest and our respective lives enriched.
It’s true that if either of us disengage from the business, we both lose. There’s no easy ride either: if I slack off, we both lose. If I get upset, we both lose. We both live the consequences of our, and each other’s, actions and inactions, equally. The fact that we fully appreciate this symbiosis is what makes our partnership work so well. That, and the discipline of emotionally competent behaviour.
Being in the partnership has taught us some big lessons in that regard, like the genuine importance of patience, respect and appreciative listening. It has also taught us new practices, some of which still take us out of our respective comfort zones and which are worth sharing.
- 1. Feel the fear and do it anyway
Just like the Susan Jeffers book of the same name suggests; fear can create self-limiting beliefs, lead to the unequal distribution of effort, quash business opportunities, and frustrate the less-fearful partner.
- 2. Titles don’t matter
That’s right, they don’t. We have learned to just roll-up our sleeves and do what it takes to get things done. It’s a model of personal leadership we hope our staff and associates adopt, too.
- 3. Financial rewards are fleeting and not altogether fulfilling
One day we celebrate a financial win and just around the corner comes the lean times. Our motivation is delivering good quality results that exceed clients’ expectations, and our own learning and growth. Our organisational culture is not rooted in money but in the leadership values of ethics, accountability and strong character.
- 4. If an idea is easy to explain, you’re probably missing something
We’ve found that very few aspects of running a business are simple or linear. Every new idea we have goes through a rigorous process and assessed from many perspectives – risk, customers, production, quality, seasonality, competitors, cost, price, distribution, supply chain, and more. An idea that’s easy to explain is probably a nice dream that hasn’t yet been tested for feasibility. And while business might be inspired by dreams, real results come from designing ideas that deliver results.
- 5. Say yes, and figure out how to do it later
Sooner or later, in business, you simply need to back yourself and take a [calculated] risk. Adventurous business leaders inspire innovation and creative tension. In our partnership we challenge each other to stay on our toes.
- 6. There are more than 2 ways to do things
My definition of an optimist is someone who finds multiple pathways to solutions. We often have different ideas for how to go about things but Julianne and I have learned that a polarising stand-off will get us nowhere fast. It’s often better to find a third way that we arrive at together rather than ‘win:lose’ on a defended position.
- 7. Business doesn’t come in just because the doors are open
It’s hard work attracting clients and customers in a crowded market-place. It takes a lot of energy and activity to generate a productive pipeline and increasing sales. We’ve learned that action and accountability are fundamental to success. So get out there, meet people and grow your networks.