Date your prospective partner first before entering a business marriage

Date your prospective partner first before entering a business marriage

Internationally certified team coach Angela van Dorssen talks about her daily practice.
“We went our separate ways. As it turned out, we had different plans for the future.” “I am doubting whether we should stay together. Our work methods are so different, and we cannot overcome our differences. We have trouble making decisions. We avoid each other.” “I want to thoroughly consider things. My partner prefers to take risks. There is a lot of friction. We can’t make it work.” These are all things I’ve heard from businesses I’ve recently worked with. Partnerships that end in a business divorce – and, often, in complicated situations. With all kinds of financial and relational consequences. When I ask them about it, it turns out that they had doubts since the very beginning, but didn’t act on them. You find common ground in your shared business dream, and when it all comes together financially, fiscally and legally, it makes sense to sign the deal. Up until the point where you start seeing serious cracks appear in the partnership, and you start seeing the foundation of trust slowly crumbling away.

Social due diligence is not a standard

In takeovers, it is customary to do due diligence beforehand, in order to determine things like the value of the merging companies. External expertise is employed. In my view, it is wise to get a good idea of what you’re getting yourself into and to minimise the risk of a bad purchase. So-called social due diligence, in which such matters are considered as whether corporate cultures are compatible, and whether you are a good fit relationship-wise, is not included in takeover talks. This is where entrepreneurs are missing out on a major opportunity!

Increase your chances of a long-lasting marriage

If everything checks out financially, fiscally and legally and you intend to proceed with this partnership: hit the pause button. Before you sign anything, discuss how each of you envisions this partnership. Also include organisational questions like: how do we want to manage our organisation? What is our vision for employees? What are our individual dreams and ambitions? How do we want to work together? How will we deal with conflicts and differences? That way, you can build a solid relational partnership too.

It’s quite bizarre: We don’t marry someone if we have doubts. Why would you do so when it comes to business? If you need a sparring session, just give me a call.

Business partner coaching