Column: 9 Lessons for life after divorce my business partner
About the author: Chris Campbell currently lives in Santiago, Chile, where he works and develops its online venture monitor comments Review Trackers .
Establish a business partnership is like marriage. Therefore, is as complete a divorce.
We said goodbye to a cold January day in 2011. Or rather, he was dismissed, on the stairs coming to our offices in North Clark Street in Chicago. My companion and business partner for three years, our creative director, one of the most important people thought our team was told that completed its work in building the company.
I say “was completed its work in building the company,” but it really felt more like a “I finished my work with our baby.” Our baby was a digital marketing agency: newborn and often frustrating. I must admit I was an ugly baby – most complicated months we pay salaries, even though we did everything possible to make it all work – but that’s not even crossed my mind when I was on that gray carpet and gawking petrified my now ex partner.
What was going through my mind then? Like many entrepreneurs optimistic, I always see the glass half full. I had tunnel vision, seeing or paying much attention to what was happening around. Back then, I did not I realized that our company was not working. That we were not going anywhere. That my business partner – and this is the most important of all – he was not happy. I only knew that without him our company could not be the same.
To say that this divorce left me heartbroken falls short. It let me know the rawness and the hard lessons that come with the breakup of a business partnership. Some of these lessons never forget. It has been almost two years, and in this era where innovative and entrepreneurial success stories to our attention, I can tell you first hand that the failures and mistakes of novice entrepreneurs – and the knowledge gained from these failures – are equally or more valuable those stories. Are these lessons and knowledge I share now, hoping guide societies youth traveling uncharted seas.
- Keep an eye on cash flow. This is the lifeblood of any business. At school always talk about the statement of profit and loss, and the importance of monitoring costs. This was never my strong suit, so it was never my main focus. I thought, “if we sell more, why fix every problem, right?”. The answer is no. Not solve all problems. Your partner and you should always monitor cash flow. I learned this by force. If you can not pay salaries, no matter how many millions you have in accounts receivable.
- Make quick decisions. When my business partner was always taught me that it is better to make decisions quickly. Probably never have given all the credit he deserves for having the guts to say that day that I wanted to leave. Although more comfortable, delaying a decision accomplishes nothing. You just do not spend time rethinking things (anyway, most of the time you know from the start what you decide). Since the break with my partner I have applied this learning to almost every aspect of my life: choose one or the other, and then commit to it tightly.
- Leaving the comfort zone. The hardest challenge for me was that I was comfortable with my life – too comfortable, actually. Began to lean to the human tendency to look for patterns, routines and conventions – without feeling the need to pressure and test my limits. I needed a wake-up call that made me see that the really important things happened when I got my limits. Divorce with my business partner was the wake-up call: I took the lane, from the routine of my comfort zone or whatever you call it. How it works in business too. Always be willing to try new things and push you.
- Life is short. Do something you’re passionate about. If you do not like what you’re doing, stop. Passion is the key ingredient for business success. My partner and I did not have this key ingredient, and remain reluctant to admit that we could both be in a better place to no avail. From the “divorce”, I increased my income, I founded a new enterprise project and traveled the world, visiting nearly 30 cities in the last 18 months.
- Have the uncomfortable conversation. Be direct, honest and raw. People will love you or hate you for that. Of course: sometimes be very honest can make you look like an idiot, but I’ve learned that being honest about what you want – and on what your business needs – you’re a jerk justifies ten times. It is different to be nice to be a pushover. My business partner was not either.
- Have a plan B. You never know when things will go wrong.’s Why the importance of building systems that people: you up for any disastrous event that may arise in the business. Imagine the worst scenarios. Have backup of your files, your websites, your computer, your ideas and all your valuable information? I now yes I have. I do not want to find out how I can be destroyed if I lose my computer or access to it. I do not even want to know what it feels like to try to save and collect everything in the last minute. When my business partner and I decided to divorce – a totally unpredictable event – I devised a plan to backup everything. There was a stress-free time, but I learned from experience that you must always be prepared.
- Being poor sucks. People say that money does not solve problems. Let me tell you yes. When my business partner and I decided to leave everything, continue to live together. Why? Because we could not survive otherwise. At that point, I decided to work harder and make smart decisions to generate more money. Life is much better when you have an income that allows you to not only have food, water and shelter, but also some luxuries like travel, meet interesting people from around the world, or as to save me the hassle of having to live with my ex business partner.
- Focus, Focus, Focus. When I was in college I had a new toy syndrome. He jumped from one topic to another topic, one idea to another, from concept to concept. Symptoms and complications of this syndrome were transferred to our work environment and were not conducive for business. The ability to realize what is important – to recognize what really should be done – is critical to success. As my tutor Becky Davenport, “concentrate, concentrate, concentrate.” Focus has helped me achieve efficiency, and efficiency has led me to work only 35 or 40 hours a week, 12 hours a day working a day, 7 days a week.
- Avoid losing time.’m Not just talking about seeing the viral YouTube video constant or status updates on Twitter. I mean the worst lost time: the time spent in giving value to your business and your customers, but you really are not doing it. As a business owner, you have to set your own schedule and write, but write it in a way that helps you focus on the things that really matter. Do not make the same mistakes I had my business partner and me. Do not do meetings with people who only make you lose time. Instead of spending hours trying to get advice, leverages what you already know. You should carefully consider all of your business issues and identify the important things that truly demand, need and deserve your attention.