Do I Have The Right Business Partner?

Dear Ken Keller,

I could be expecting too much, but my business partner is not the guy I started the business with.

Maybe he has changed or I have changed, but we don’t seem to be on the same page.

The business has had its ups and downs but overall, we have done pretty well.

But it seems to me he has taken on the mentality of being an employee and is no longer a leader. I seek his input but he offers nothing new, no new perspective, no ideas and that leaves the burden on me to lead the company. —William H.

Dear William:

Partnerships are the most difficult business arrangement I am aware of.

While there are advantages, sometimes the disadvantages seem to be more numerous and onerous.

Let me suggest that it is time for you and your partner to take a step back and revisit where you started, where you are today and where you are going in the future. While you are doing that, let me suggest that the two of you each buy and read a great book, The Partnership Charter: How To Start Out The Right Way With Your New Business Partnership (or Fix The One You’re In).

The book, by David Gage, is filled with real life examples and exercises that are useful for partnerships and also for businesses in transition. By this I mean, someone who is selling their business; a family making a transition to the next generation and to someone who is turning the management of their business to an outside “hired gun.”

Reconnecting outside of the day to day pressures of the business will allow the two of you to determine what you both need to be doing to improve what you already have going for yourselves.

Dear Ken Keller

The NFL is back and my employees are running a weekly betting pool. I know it is illegal and I don’t participate and officially I don’t acknowledge that it exists.

Is there anything I need to be aware of? — Susie T.

Dear Susie,

You are wise not to participate and to pull a Sergeant Shultz (“I know nothing, nothing”) approach. As long as your employees aren’t arguing about who wins and aren’t spending company resources, let it go. If it interferes with work, you can always shut it down.

Dear Ken Keller

I’ve got some employees who head out to lunch every day. Some seem to be stretching it out, meaning, they are gone for more than our approved time (one hour). Not everyone does this, but more than a few do and it bothers me. I don’t want to threaten or have to punish everyone but I need to address this. What’s the best way to handle this? —-Randy N.

Dear Randy,

Pick up the phone and invest in a short conversation with your employment attorney about how to address this. This may be a much bigger potential legal issue than you think. Follow the advice of your attorney on this very important matter.