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December 17, 2014

Clashing with your Business Partner? 5 Steps to get Back on Track

You’re bound to have disagreements at some point in your business relationship but it’s important to handle them professionally. When times are stressful and you’re not seeing eye-to-eye, it’s easy to let your mind go down a negative path, which can be really hard to recover from. If you’re feeling like you’re just not clicking with your business partner, here are 5 steps you can take to get back on the same page.

1) Schedule a Meeting – don’t try to discuss the issues over text or emails. Although you may like to get your thoughts organized and down in an email, it’s so easy for them to be taken the wrong way. An exclamation point could be taken as anger when you intended it as excitement and they may be wondering why you didn’t use more smiley faces. If it helps, jot down the areas that you’d like to discuss so you’re both on the same page and no one is blindsided but leave the details until you see them in person. Schedule this meeting sooner than later; the longer you let it go, the more your mind can run rampant, making up scenarios and arguments that may never happen.

2) Focus on the positive – it’s so easy to spiral out of control in stressful times. One disagreement and you’ll find yourself picking up on every little character flaw, finding it difficult to see their good traits. Take a moment to stop the negative chatter going on in your head and focus on all the things you love about your business partner. If you’re really in a bad spot, this may be hard at first, but keep at it until you have a smile on your face when you think of them. Consider all the work they have put in and the times they’ve picked up the slack for you. Once you’re there, don’t let your mind go back to the arguments you’re currently having. If you walk into the meeting with a chip on your shoulder, it’s probably not going to go very well. If you have a positive outlook and an open mind, you have a much better chance of working things out.

3) Be honest and keep an open mind – don’t side step around the hard conversations; this is a business and should be treated as such. If you don’t feel your partner is pulling their weight, you need to discuss it. Do it in a way so you’re asking not accusing and use facts not feelings. Had a craft show and they weren't very present? Ask them why they didn’t show up on time and if they felt that was fair to you. Don’t say things like “I feel like you’re always late”, reference specific situations and how that impacted you or the business. Try to help each other understand your point of views. Perhaps they were late because they were up until 2 a.m. making stock and they’re feeling unappreciated because you didn’t acknowledge that. There are always 2 sides to the story.

4) Go back to your business plan – you both may need some refocusing. Pull out the business plan you drafted when you started and the goals you defined. This will give both of you the opportunity to be reminded of your roles and responsibilities. When we’re going through a difficult time it’s easy to loose sight of why we’re really doing this. Drum up that excitement you had when you first started your venture. Recognize how far you’ve come and what each of you has done to get to where you are today.

5) Set new goals – if you’re both feeling a little complacent, it may be time to create some new exciting goals or a change in direction. Work ethic can slide when we’re not feeling motivated so figure out what is going to give you both that spark again. Maybe you need to plan some vacation time and take turns covering the business while the other gets a much-needed break. Giving each other the time to step away, clear your heads and come back feeling refreshed may be just what your business and partnership needs.

How do you deal with conflict in your business relationships?

Image courtesySicha Pongjivanich/

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