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 framework for creating a comprehensive set of agreements.
The 13 units in the Workbook help partners to talk about seldom discussed and sensitive interpersonal issues including personal styles and values, mutual expectations, fairness, and conflict resolution. They help create clarity about the 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
Lawyers and accountants are indispensable in running a business. But, working alone, they may not have all the expertise needed to help you through many fundamental issues dealt with in a Partnership Charter.
- 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 raw. Learning how to avoid the hot spots can save the day — every day.
- Values and vision. Good will and consideration can 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 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 template. Conducting the discussions and negotiations without a neutral third-party mediator can be challenging, so this option is offered for partners with limited resources. With the Self-Directed Option, a professional trained in the PC process provides the following:
- a) A one-hour webinar orientation to the Partnership Charter method with specific recommendations for optimizing the process
- b) Assessments of personal styles, personal values and conflict styles
- c) MS-Word versions of The Partnership Charter Workbook to prepare partners for their discussions and negotiations
- d) An MS-Word template for drafting a Partnership Charter
- e) After the partners complete their Charter, an experienced PC-trained professional spends five hours reviewing it and providing written feedback that highlights potential pitfalls in the agreements, important issues that may need further consideration, and other suggestions for enhancing the Charter and the partnership.
- f) A one-hour question-and- answer phone call with the professional who reviewed the PC is scheduled to go over the written feedback and address any remaining issues.
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 that sensitive issues are explored in depth. This process ensures that 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 that they know where they’re headed, what their end game is and how they will get there. Most retreats last 3 or 4 days. In addition to items a) through c) above, in the Guided-Retreat Option,
- a) Facilitators/Mediators guide the partners’ discussions and negotiations during an intensive PC retreat (or a series of day-long meetings)
- b) During the retreat, the mediators meet with the partners together and also separately in private caucuses where they coach partners confidentially
- c) Depending on the partners’ needs, the mediators may assist between meetings with specific questions or issues that arise
- d) The mediators record all key understandings and agreements the partners reach and include them in a draft Partnership Charter
- e) 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.