3 Pillars of a Successful Business Partnership

My first business venture was a partnership. Working with another person with similar dreams was the only way I was able to get started as a business owner. We coupled my general business skills and money, along with his expertise and time. We operated three units of a local pizza restaurant franchise throughout the 1990′s. I kept my day job, and my partner took care of the day-to-day operations of the business.

I’ve gone on to experience less rewarding partnerships, and fortunately, much more fruitful ones as well. I now understand more clearly why I prefer working in teams, and how I am typically more productive combining my skills and energy with my partners’. Starting with that first successful teaming, I have come to understand and appreciate that at the foundation of a strong business partnership are the three pillars of trust, respect and agreement.

1. Trust

Before there can be anything meaningful and lasting in a relationship, there must be a mutual level of trust. Trust, however, takes time to develop.

I have known David Begin, my current partner in various ventures, since 1991. We met when we both worked for a large software company, and have remained friends over the years. Our families have travelled together, and we have developed a close bond over time. When the opportunity first arose for us to partner on a business, we had already developed a deep trust at a personal level. This trust has been the basis of our business relationship. We rely on the fact, as good partners must, that we have each other’s interests in mind – we have each other’s backs in any situation. We try to consider what’s best for the other person, and what’s makes most sense for the business overall.

If you have the advantage of considering a partnership with someone with whom you have a long-term relationship, then trust should already be established. But what if you have recently met the person you are considering going into business with? How do you develop trust in a short period of time?

In my opinion and experience, it’s difficult if not impossible to rush the development of personal trust. There are, however, techniques we can use to accelerate the development of trust in a business environment. It requires careful and calculated observation, applied techniques, and lots of intuition.

In his book “The Trusted Advisor”, author David Maister explains that in business relationships you can quickly improve your “trust factor” by increasing credibility, reliability and intimacy while reducing self-orientation. The “trust factor” is a measure of trust, from the perspective of the other person with whom you are conducting business.

When it comes to measuring the evolving trust you have in a new partner, it’s applicable to consider those same factors. If the person is potentially trustworthy, they will likely demonstrate credibility (they tend to be accurate, complete, and don’t tend to exaggerate their knowledge), reliability (they follow through on their promises and are consistent in their actions and behavior), and intimacy (they are candid, genuine, and emotionally open). Low self-orientation (meaning that they are not always focused on themselves, they are good listeners, and don’t exhibit a need to always be right and win at all costs) is the other important clue to help you judge the character of your potential partners. It’s often most effective to watch for these indicators during the most casual of situations, like during a meal at a restaurant when the other person may reveal more of their true self.

Partnerships may not be a fit for people who do not like to seek advice from others, who do not prefer to share success or blame, and if they don’t see value in the opinions of others. As you are getting to know your potential partner, be sure to listen and observe carefully to identify these characteristics.

It’s also probably not a good idea to partner just for financial reasons. Overlooking a mismatch in personalities and vision in the short-term because that person has the money you need may eventually result in a negative relationship.

2. Respect

An effective business partnership also depends upon mutual respect. Ideally, your partners bring complimentary skills and abilities to the team. Combined with each partner’s perspective and experience, the group is considerably stronger and more effective than any one person could ever be by themselves. Team members must have a level of respect for each other, which fosters a positive and productive business environment.

Recognition and positive feedback are important for showing and feeling respect. We must take the time to recognize and appreciate the efforts and input that all partners bring to the collaboration. We all naturally want to be recognized and respected for our individual contributions, even if those contributions are never implemented. You demonstrate respect for your partner when you value or simply acknowledge their input, ideas and perspectives.

Of course, to gain respect, you must be worthy of being respected. Earning respect is in large part based on being a good person and partner (are you someone who looks for the best in others and who follows through on your promises and commitments to the team?) telling the truth and being transparent, and genuinely caring about your teammates. Respect the people you work with, and they should respect you in return.

3. Agreement

There can be complete trust and honest respect in a business relationship, but it can all come tumbling down with one seemingly simple misunderstanding. “I thought you were going to do this?” “No, I assumed that you would do that!”

During the honeymoon phase of the relationship, when we are caught up in the excitement of the new business, we may be quick to make assumptions and avoid difficult conversations. Dodging critical questions and assuming that things will always be great often leads to ruinous arguments later.

It’s critical that you clearly define upfront who will do what and how much time each partner will invest in the business. You also have to discuss and agree on many other points including the terms of a future buy-out – either because one of the partners wants out, or there is a death.

My business partner and I benefit from, and prefer, what we refer to as “active partnerships”. These are partnerships where all members are contributing fairly equally. It provides us the financial benefit of spreading the risk, but also sharing the burden and responsibility of building and growing our small businesses. It often makes sense to bring in investors, however, who are not involved in the day-to-day operations of the business.

Legal written partnership agreements are a must for any partnership. This typically includes an Operating Agreement and a Buy-Sell Agreement which is drafted by an attorney. The legal agreement defines all of the parameters and terms of the business, including who is the Managing Member, what capital is contributed by each member, and what happens when a member of the partnership wants to exit or can no longer perform their duties.

We recommend that you start with a Memo of Understanding. This is simply an outline that documents most of the terms of the partnership. Then you consult with an attorney to finalize the details and create the legal Operating Agreement. The key is to discuss and agree upfront on the terms of the partnership, and avoid the misunderstandings and resentment that can otherwise develop later.

There are many reasons why partnering may make best sense for your business venture, including funding (one partner or a “silent partner” provides the money for start-up), expertise (one partner has the expertise in the industry or business you are starting), and the desire to build a company with friends and family (although we always caution that you be careful when partnering with your friends and family as it may end badly). If you are like me, you may simply prefer, and be significantly more productive, when you combine your efforts with a partner. Regardless of the reasons, always consider the three pillars of trust, respect and agreement upon which successful business partnerships are usually based.

Stock Trading Education – All You Need In 4 Easy Steps

Stock trading education is what you need if you are looking to make money with the stocks and shares market. If you don’t know what you are doing, you’ll be throwing your money away. Check out the tips below to get the best stock trading education.Tip 1The first thing you’ll learn in any decent stock trading education is tracking. It’s all well and good checking the prices in the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal each day, but these are hardly up to date figures are they? Think about it for a moment – who benefits most, the guy who’s able to react in real time to market changes or the guy that reacts to the changes the day after they happen? For this reason alone some solid computer tracking software is a great idea.

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Tip 2Another great piece of stock trading information is to always keep in mind the international markets. Many traders get totally wrapped up in the US markets, but watching the European markets can give you a distinct advantage that most traders never even realise – The European markets begin trading far earlier than the US ones, and you can often get a good idea of whether the US market will open with a rise or fall through this.Tip 3Be honest with yourself. The best stock trading education in the world doesn’t matter if there is something you don’t understand. This is especially true if dealing with a broker service. If you don’t understand something, speak up about it. If not, it’s likely going to cost you money in the long term – how can you make a decision on something you don’t understand?

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Tip 4This last tip is something they don’t tell in most stock trading educations – you’re probably going to lose money! At first anyway. Unless you are super lucky, chances are things aren’t going to work out 100% of the time. It’s the ability to reduce the losses and maximize the profits that make stock trading a viable business, just remember that EVERYONE loses money sometimes.As we said, a stock trading education or some good tips can mean the difference between rich and poor. Click the links below to find out where to get proven successful tips.

The Energy Healing Power of Natural Medicine

Natural medicine is a system that uses a variety of therapeutic or preventive health care practices such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and herbal medicine. Alternative medicine is also known as traditional, naturopathic, natural or holistic medicine. Proponents of alternative medicine are not refuting the validity of discoveries in and the practical uses of conventional medicine, but are merely trying to put some things into perspective. Due to the widespread interest in natural medicine along with the disappointment and disenchantment with Western medicine, many people, especially in the United States and Europe, where conventional medicine has taken a dominant foothold, are seeking the advice and treatment from naturopathic physicians. These practitioners include herbalists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and others, who advocate preventative health measures as well as recommend wholesome foods and nutritional supplements for their patients and clients. Considering the growing popularity and effectiveness of alternative health treatments and products, certified and licensed professional practitioners of such medical practices should be given their rightful and respectful place in medical society. Natural medicine has been proven not only to be safe, but more effective than Western medicine in treating many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and many other diseases as well

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The history of Natural Medicine and its roots can be traced back thousands of years to ancient cultures such as India and China. Ayurvedic (E. Indian) and Chinese medicine, along with their diagnostic and herbal systems, are still used in these countries extensively, as well as in the United States, especially in Europe, where alternative medicine is well respected. Chinese herbal medicine has a documented history of over 2500 years in China, and is now widely used by practitioners all over the world. It has been legally practiced in the United States. since the mid seventies by licensed acupuncturists. Homeopathy is also a well-known form of alternative medicine discovered in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, but was practically stamped out in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century by the American Medical Association. In 1938, though, the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act finally recognized homeopathic pharmacopoeia as the legal equivalent of allopathic medicine.Another more contemporary and popular form of herbal medicine, called Western herbalism, can be traced back about two hundred years in America. Samuel Thomson, born in 1769, is considered the father of Western herbalism. He discovered over sixty different medically effective native plants by clinical testing, and on the basis of these findings, devised a theory of disease and botanical drug action. Randy Kidu, D.V.M., Ph.D., writes in his articled entitled A Brief History of Alternative Medicine: “The history of herbal medicine is interesting because herbs have been a part of our diet and pharmacy since man began roaming the earth. Coprophytic evidence (seeds and other plant part(found in preserved fecal pellets) points to herbal use by cavemen. Early herbalists practiced their trade since before recorded history in all parts of the world including China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, England, the Americas, and Europe. Many herbs are also mentioned in the Bible. Today, based on sheer numbers of folks who use one form of herbal medicine or another, it remains the most-used medicine worldwide.”Twenty-five hundred years after the advent of allopathic medicine, modern medicine is still grappling with the idea that herbal medicine could be an effective treatment, and not just quackery, although thousands of years of recorded history has proved its efficacy. A new model of understanding in medicine needs to be incorporated into the existing allopathic model. Because of the growing popularity and effectiveness of natural medicine, practitioners may eventually be given their deserved place in medical society. The incorporation of natural medical practices into the existing model of conventional Western medicine, including the training of new medical doctors, is now called Complimentary Medicine. In order to solve our health problems, this modern paradigm for treatment in medicine must be promoted. This can only truly emerge when bias, self-interest, greed and discrimination is discarded and diverse medical knowledge is promoted and shared, not only between university trained scientists and medical doctors, but among Alternative Medicine practitioners, philosophers, metaphysicians, and other intelligentsia of society as well.

Skip The Lines – Bring The Amusement Park Right To Your Own Back Yard

There’s no shortage of things to do in Atlanta. From professional sports to amusement parks, there’s something for everyone. In fact, Atlanta is proud to house some of the nations largest amusement attractions, including the ever popular Six Flags Over Georgia. Children (and adults) love the thrill and adrenaline rush of the large roller coasters. However, one thing most people don’t like about amusement parks is the long lines. By the time it’s all said and done, you can spend several hundred dollars for your family to have an afternoon of fun, and only get a few rides in. This year, instead of spending the day waiting in long lines for short rides, why not bring the fun right to your back yard? With today’s technology, you can literally do just that! One of the advantages of living in a large city like Atlanta is that we have large rental companies that can make your special event feel just like a trip to Six Flags… complete with a train and an ice cream cart!

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If you’re trying to replicate the amusement park feel, there are definitely specific items that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. As mentioned previously, ice cream carts and trackless trains help make the special event feel more like a day at Six Flags.In order to make your next special event more special, try some of the following tips:

Head online to do some research on the party rental company that has the selection your looking for. If you want an ice cream cart to complete your theme park adventure, look around until you find what you’re looking for.

Don’t settle for the first website you see. There are literally hundreds of inflatable party rental companies in Atlanta. Keep looking for a website that offers a wide variety of rental items that you’re looking for.

It’s better to rent everything from one company. Renting in bulk can help you save money. Larger companies will offer discounts for larger purchases of multiple units and rental items.

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Having a day of amusement park fun is cheaper and easier than ever before. By bringing the amusement park to your front door by using a party rental industry, you can include more people at a lower price. So next time you’re planning a special day, instead of spending tons of money for just a few people and braving the long lines of amusement parks, invite the whole neighborhood and bring the amusement park right to your own back yard!