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Sharing Space: Partnership Pros and Cons

August 24, 2011

As I reminisced with an old friend about childhood memories, a part of our discussion focused on the room she shared with her sister. The story reminded me why deciding to partner with someone in business needs to be well thought out.  
 My friend and her sister shared a very large bedroom in the top of their house. Although both sisters shared the space, they both felt they owned 50% of the room. One sister kept her side of the room completely neat. Everything belonged in a certain place, empty water glasses were always returned to the kitchen and the bed was always made. She loved having an organized and appealing space. The other sister didn’t care too much about order. She lived freely and threw her clothes on the floor, left glasses full of rotting juice on chairs, and never folded her clothes. She loved the freedom that came with disorder. They loved each other but hated living with each other.

 Over time the tidy sister got weary of the mess created on the other half of the room. Even though she wasn’t living exactly in the middle of the clutter, she could see it and it affected the way she felt. No matter how hard she tried to convince her sister to tidy the room, it didn’t work. The messy sister just couldn’t understand the big deal. Eventually the neat sister took tape and created a line down the middle of the room. She wanted to make sure if anyone came into the room, they didn’t see one big room but two separate rooms with each sister responsible for their own part. No longer could the neat sister be affiliated with something she couldn’t control. Creating the imaginary boundary helped her define her space. 

 Often times when business partnerships begin, the entrepreneurs start off excited to share one big room. But quite often the partnership becomes like the sister’s relationship. One partner sees and wants their room one way, and the other sees and wants it differently. The disparity eventually becomes too large and boundaries are drawn. No one can really controls the entire room because it was shared to begin with. 

 Today’s blog is to encourage you to consider whether or not partnerships in your business, with projects and with collaborative proposals are a wise decision. Should there be one person with ultimate authority and responsibility? Do you have a plan if there’s a problem that just can’t be fixed? How can you remove yourself from a relationship that changes?

Don’t partner with others to play it safe, to have a friend, or to take the risk out of the decisions. Ultimately,you want 100% control over the important issues that you’ll face as an entrepreneur. For good or bad, those decisions are yours to make. Don’t give away 50% of your space because you might not like what you see on the other side.

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