Partnership: It Takes Two to Tango

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to (and then finally meeting in person at the BlogHer for Business conference) Sharon Horowitz, PhD, principal of the consulting firm, CenterNorth.  In addition to possessing a keen intellect and a background in psychology (not to mention a charming South African accent), Sharon has put together a brilliant white paper, called “It Takes Two to Tango,” which looks at some of the reasons that tech-related business partnerships crash on rocky shoals.  It’s an eye-opening report — don’t let the tech focus dissuade you.  The lessons her interviewees have learned from the trenches and the factors for success that she outlines can help partnerships in any industry!

As Sharon found, fewer than 20% of partnerships lasted more than five years. She noticed common themes in both the horror stories and the success stories, which spurred Center North to conduct some preliminary research to bring into focus the challenges and solutions arising from the partnership business structure.

Her research looked at business partners who were either “recovering” from their failed relationships, or thriving in one.  Among the major findings:

1.  It’s not the business plan, but the relationship between the business partners that lends to the success or failure of the venture.

2.  Because of the intimate “intangibles” that business owners bring to a partnership, it’s hard to evaluate whether you get in return what you put in . . . which can be a source of dissatisfaction.

3.  Even with a written partnership agreement, it’s the interpersonal and emotional dynamics that can derail a partnership.

Plus, the comments to her post seem to bear this out.  What do you think?

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