by Stephanie Bickel
The events surrounding Covid-19 may have caused you to think differently about what is important. You now want to focus on your passions and the actions that will help you reach your goals. This may mean a drastic change in your career aspirations. You might need career coaching now more than ever before to help you navigate this unsettling time.
Maybe you are motivated to get into management.
Maybe you want to change industries.
Maybe you want to go off on your own to start a new venture.
If you are one of the ones that have been thinking about starting your own business, you are breaking into "startup" territory. It can be challenging, and a career transition coach can help you understand what it takes to be successful and the pitfalls that can occur.
If you are lucky, you found someone just as passionate as you about launching your new venture. An optimistic partnership begins where you want to invest all of your time and energy to make it work. How you do it successfully, however, becomes the tricky part.
You are an extrovert. She is an introvert.
You were a manager. Now you need to navigate working with a peer.
No longer do you have someone dictating the company culture. It is now up to you to set that up with your partner. What should the rules and rituals of your working relationship be?
A career coach knows what is takes. By listening to others and through experiences of our own, we have put together 7 career coaching strategies that can help ease the learning curve in business partnerships.
1. Get to know each other. Really know each other.
Invest the time up front to really understand each other’s style and then respect that style. Your authentic style has made each of you successful up to this point. Make sure you include pressures outside of the business relationship that may have an impact on how you work together. Is one of you also balancing childcare or elder care? Is one of you training for a marathon? Will this be your night job for a while as a day job is still needed to pay the bills?
2. Respect unique styles and strengths. Openly discuss them.
This relates to both the personality and skill set of each partner. Openly discuss the qualities that will drive different parts of the business. This includes not only someone’s strengths, but preferences as well. Perhaps one is a better writer and the other is more of an engineer. Divide and conquer as a team to accelerate business performance. If something needs to change, be specific about it and explain why it needs to be different.
3. Clearly define roles.
It is stressful enough just working with a partner. You can make it easier if you are not in each other’s way due to the design of your roles. Once you have agreed to the roles, be transparent with each other about how you contribute to each other’s roles. Some people like a consultative partner. Others want to own something completely. Give each other the necessary support or space they need to do their role well.
4. Address the gaps in skill set.
After you have established your roles and acknowledged your strengths, figure out the skills you lack. Then, discuss how you will fill those gaps. If you are going to get an external resource, who owns that relationship? If one of you is going to develop that skill, how do you create some space for that development to happen?
5. Agree to a delegation of authority.
Discuss the protocol for decision-making. What types of decisions require an agreement? What types can be decided by one person without the other? In the beginning, start broad. Figure out general categories to keep the process moving.
6. Set up routine status updates.
Status updates are important to keep each other informed and to keep the business moving forward. Iterate on a process until it works for you. Perhaps ad-hoc status updates work for your partnership. Or, for others, you need to set up a recurring time of day or part of the week to share updates. Establish a protocol for emails, too. When should you send an email ‘to’ the other person? When should you ‘cc’ or ‘bcc’ them?
7. Understand the financial implications.
If the business requires a financial investment, make sure there is clear understanding of how that impacts each of you. Is one of you investing more in the business? If one partner has more to contribute financially, that does not necessarily make them the lead. Contributions come in many forms to start a business. One should not be looked at as more important than the other.
Starting a new business is an exciting time. It is also a stressful time. You cannot do it alone. Your relationship with your business partner is the most important relationship to foster during this time. Don’t hold back.
Give yourself the best chance to succeed as you navigate unchartered territory. Work with a career transition coach and your partner to document a plan. Do it together…as a one cohesive team.
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