I recently shared my experiences of having a business parter with Future Worlds, an initiative set up to connect the world with start-ups and spin-outs from the University of Southampton. Click here to find out more about Future Worlds!
Some relationships are enduring – others aren’t. Roger and I have enjoyed what is most probably the most enduring and successful business partnership of any I have personally come across. I have been working with Roger for 27 years. We have co-founded and subsequently sold two successful companies – the ATL Group and Plant Asset Management Ltd- and since become Senior Vice Presidents of parent oil services company Petrofac. Still working together, we have grown Plant Asset Management into a business that employs over 280 staff in operations in Europe, America, Middle East and Australia.
From day one we have shared a common vision and goal as to what we want to achieve for the business; this is absolutely essential. The strategy as to how to get there has often differed; but, because we share the common goals and vision, we end up having to consider, and at the end of the day compromise, on each other’s different perspective as to how to get there. This creates a very balanced and considered way forward for the business, hopefully taking into account the best aspects of each other’s thinking.
We are both very different characters and personalities, with very different skills, which really just happened by chance, but looking back this is a very important aspect to any successful business partnership. Our strong personalities can often mean conflict in getting over our points to each other, but at the end of the day you have to reach a compromise because you have common goals.
A single entrepreneur who is not subject to strong influential challenge can very easily take the business down the wrong path. A business partnership prevents that from happening, which is why the strength of any business partnership lies not in the similarities of your personalities, views and skills, but in the differences.
There is another important benefit of a partnership that is linked to very ‘human’ aspect of us all. Being the head a company can be a very lonely place. Your staff and shareholders are constantly looking to you to succeed. Having someone else there to help you up is of immeasurable value.
It’s not all been bliss. It can be fractious working with a business partner but that is all part of the process. You are challenging each other to go down a balanced path. In many ways it is a lot like a marriage – you are stronger as a team than you are alone.