By David Gage
(The companion to The Partnership Charter: How To Start Out Right With Your New Business Partnership (Or Fix The One You’re In) by David Gage)
Building a Firm Foundation
A business partnership can enable you to fulfill your dreams. Or it can become an excruciating nightmare. The difference is often determined by a few key business and interpersonal factors. How well do the partners understand each other? How well do they treat each other? How well have they clarified their business arrangement? How well do their dreams meld into a common, powerful vision?
The Workbook Process
BMC’s Partnership Charter Workbook provides a practical, structured process for partners or prospective partners to address these crucial issues. Along with Dr. David Gage’s leading guide to business partnership, The Partnership Charter: How To Start Out Right With Your New Business Partnership (or Fix the One You’re In), the Workbook is a step-by-step process for creating a comprehensive set of agreements.
The 14 units in the Workbook help partners talk about sensitive interpersonal issues that are seldom discussed, including personal styles and values, mutual expectations, fairness, and conflict resolution. They help clarify business aspects of their “deal” related to money, vision, governance, ownership, and control. The product of the process is a Charter document that commits to paper the partners’ conclusions in all areas. If you are considering a partnership, expanding one, or trying to save one from serious problems, a Charter can make all the difference.
A Total Solution
Step by step, the PC Workbook guides partners through fundamental issues.
- Trust and fairness. These are the foundations of a partnership. Truly achieving them requires frank and probing discussions.
- Personalities. Partners’ different personalities can add to the range of capabilities in their business. But they can also rub each other the wrong way. Learning how to avoid the hot spots can save the day — every day.
- Values and vision. Good will and consideration only go so far. A partnership can still fail if the owners have divergent visions or values. It’s vital to align them.
BMC has drawn on its combination of business, finance, legal, and psychological expertise to create a Workbook process that will give you an opportunity to deal with all of these issues in a positive and effective manner.
The Workbook can be utilized with more or less assistance from BMC Associates. The standard options include:
Self-Directed PC Option. In this option, the partners prepare for their discussions and negotiations using The Partnership Charter Workbook and then conduct their discussions and negotiations themselves. They document the understandings and agreements they reach in their Charter using a well-designed template. Conducting the discussions and negotiations, and then documenting them without the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator can be challenging, so this option is offered for partners with limited resources. The Self-Directed Option gives partners the basics they need to develop their a Charter on their own. Partners will receive:
- A Manual with suggestions for getting the most out of the entire process
- Assessments of personal styles, personal values and conflict styles
- Word versions of the PC Workbook with over 300 questions to help partners each individually prepare for the discussions and negotiations
- A PC Template for drafting a Partnership Charter which memorializes their understandings and agreements
Partners may request a personal orientation, a thorough review of their Charter with written and verbal feedback once they are finished drafting it, and any assistance they might need along the way. The Charter feedback highlights potential pitfalls in the agreements, important issues that may need further consideration, and other suggestions for enhancing the Charter and the partnership.
Guided-Retreat PC Option. In this option, after the partners prepare using The Partnership Charter Workbook, either one or two mediators skillfully guide the partners’ discussions and negotiations during a PC retreat (or series of meetings). Professionals trained to ask the tough questions help partners speak openly and candidly with one another to ensure sensitive issues are explored in depth. This process ensures partners thoroughly understand the complexity of their partnership and the interrelationships of the various elements, from equity to compensation, and styles to decision-making authority. It builds the partners’ confidence so they know where they’re headed, what their end game is, and how they will get there. Most retreats last 3 or 4 days and include both individual and joint meetings.
The mediators record all key understandings and agreements the partners reach and include them in a draft Partnership Charter. Charters are typically 50-75 pages long and are frequently given to a neutral attorney afterwards who uses them as the basis for drafting customized legal documents tailored to the partners’ intentions. The mediators follow-up with any needed partner coaching to ensure the PC implementation is proceeding as planned and the partners are making any needed adjustments to their PC.
Contact BMC today to learn more about how we can help.