Did you start out as a dog trainer because of your passion for dogs? Many dog trainers feel so strongly about the human-animal bond that they decide to devote their career (life?) to working with dogs, As a result, their business is their passion, and it’s difficult to step away. The biggest difficulty they face is the feeling that they are going it alone. It’s incredibly useful to share the burden with another person.
And yet, I have noticed that successful dog training businesses tend to be owned by one individual, or by a couple. The burden of building a business is a lot for one person to carry, but successful partnerships (not already built on a committed personal relationship) are rare. The reason is that building a successful business partnership requires shared vision, commitment, and trust.
A successful partnership is possible and a worthy goal. How can you make a partnership work?
- Shared vision: both partners have to be working to the same goal, otherwise you will be working at cross purposes, or feeling frustrated that the other person is not acting as you expect. But, it’s impossible to know what the other person’s vision is if you don’t talk about it. Communication is the only way you will know whether you and your partner agree on what the business will be. Talk everything through, early and often. Make absolutely sure that you both truly understand what the other person is communicating. It is worthwhile to bring an expert in to make sure you are communicating well. An advisor or coach may be able to help.
- Commitment: put all the details in writing, from who will do what, to how much, to how decisions will be made if you can’t agree. Get professional help here as well, from accountants and attorneys and other experts. Once everything is in writing, get both parties’ commitment that they are comfortable and happy and agree. Ensure that there is no power imbalance in this process, and no unseen coercion. You want both partners to freely opt in.
- Trust: if you and your partner can communicate fully and very clearly commit to your shared vision, then both of you will know what to expect and what the other person will do, and that goes a long way to building trust. Include in your plan, how to wind down the partnership if circumstances require it. knowing what will happen if you need a way out will help maintain the feelings of trust.
If all of this sounds a lot like marriage, it is. A partnership in a small business is a long-term relationship that will face many pressures, in which both parties are taking a risk and devoting considerable effort. The key to success is frequent communication and clear roles within a shared vision. The benefits of having a partner to share the business with can be immeasurable.