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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

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Have you fallen off your big pink fluffy cloud yet?

On the subject of partnerships in business ...

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Posted by Jacky Sherman on 03/11/2021 @ 8:00AM

Do you remember how it felt when you first fell in love? I always think of it as being on a big pink fluffy cloud. No matter what anyone else says, that person is just perfect. And if the other person feels the same? Wow! Just wow ...


Think of what you can achieve together! It's marvellous and you're so energised you can take on the world. Trouble is, it doesn't last, does it? To sustain the relationship that pink fluffy cloud needs to turn into something more substantial.

"Is the same true for business relationships?"

OK, maybe you don't go into new business relationships with quite the passion of falling in love, but it often has many of the same elements. People rush into partnerships, alliances and collaborations riding on that big pink fluffy cloud believing their partner is just the perfect person to help them achieve success. It's so often about emotion rather than reasoned thinking. If you don't believe me, think about how people react when it all goes horribly wrong.

In 12 years of working with business leaders on their relationships, the one thing that strikes me most is the depth of emotion and the extraordinary - and often vicious - things people will do to each other when these relationships fall apart.

If you've been in business for any length of time, I expect you have your war stories, either when it has happened to you or you've witnessed it with others. You might even be living through it right now. Have you noticed that when people tell their war story, even years later, they still tell it with raw emotion as if it happened yesterday?

When I've worked with business people going through this, the one thing they all say hurt the most, and that they struggle to get past, is the betrayal of trust. Yet very few people on, either side, went into these relationships out to do the dirty on the other person. Their intentions were honourable. So what went wrong?

At the heart of it are usually a set of unrealistic expectations on one or both sides. These are usually generated in the first flush of the relationship by an eagerness to please the other person.

Then when you come off the big pink fluffy cloud you realise that:

  • Each of you is less than perfect and may not be able to deliver all that was promised. Nowhere does this hurt more than when your expectations were that the other person would cover off the bits you don't like doing yourself.

  • You haven't agreed on what your long term plans are. You've gone along with what the other person says or just never discussed it at all. Then one of you is working at pace to build a business empire seven days a week whilst the other is content if they're earning a living wage.

  • Maybe times have changed and what each of you needs to give to the business venture has also changed. Many businesses changed focus in the last two years.

  • Your own personal circumstances change and with it what you can offer changes too. A new marriage, the birth of a child, death of a significant other or ill health are common reasons why priorities may change. You may also get a rude awakening that you never were the centre of this person's universe.

Four tips this week to put in place your parachute:

  1. If it's a formal arrangement then make it formal legally. Legal partnerships, joint ventures and Service Level Agreements amongst others need proper legal advice and formal contracts. It might be tempting to work without these with people you've known for years, remember you do not necessarily know their reaction when things go wrong or money is involved. However necessary the formal arrangement you still have to manage these relationships through the ups and downs that are a normal part of business life. This is where a personal business coach comes to the fore offering you an objective view of the relationship. Remember if you're still on your fluffy cloud your own judgement may be coloured pink!

  2. Informal partnerships and agreements. A great deal of business especially in the small business world is undertaken on an informal tacit basis. Agreeing to introduce each other as referral sources is an example. This may make it easier to walk away but the emotional charge may still have a negative impact on you both. I recommend starting slowly, taking your time to build these relationships and still doing your due diligence that the other person is a trustworthy person you want to introduce to your contacts. Also review them regularly and never, ever take the other person for granted.

  3. Under promise and overdeliver. Often quoted for customer care. Well, it works equally for all relationships.

  4. A lovely quote to live by "We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly" - Sam Keen.

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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