Your business partner is both your strongest support and your weakest link


This past year has been a rough one for me business wise.  My business partner and I have been working on our crowd funding platform for almost two years and we hit a major engineering milestone last year.  We were kicking ass and firing on all cylinders.  We could see the horizon and it was bright.  Then a black swan showed up.  My partner was blind sided by his wife having an affair which may lead to their divorce.  In his case, it was a surprise to him.  Needless to say, it took him out of the game and he is still out.

This has effectively put our small business on hold for over six months.  Partners give you backup, support, and extra backing.  A team is always more powerful than an individual.  My partner is a bulldog.  He’s relentless, focused, determined, and capable.  It’s everything you want in a business partner.  What I failed to see was what that might be costing his personal life.  Admittedly I did not get involved.  I was selfish.  My partner’s ethic benefited me and I enjoyed the hustle that he brought to the business.

The price of being relentless

I would check out in the evenings for dedicated family time and he kept going.  He would follow up, send emails, and push our objectives any minute he was awake.  My partner spent time on blogs giving us visibility.  He found us resources and clients.  I jokingly said that he only had one setting on a scale of 1-10,  he was an 11.  I had no idea that it was hurting his family relationships.  He didn’t think it was hurting them either, but it was.  I even felt guilty and kind of jealous that he was working when I was ‘taking it easy’ being with my family.

I am glad I started that business with a partner.  Having one gives you someone else that shares your psychosis about reaching a common goal.  A partner is going to be committed at a level an employee rarely will.  You can get more done together and take less risk individually.  There is a lot of power and leverage in a partner.  We quickly found a level of steady performance with the two of us that couldn’t be sustained when one of us left.  We could reach twice as high but on a more delicate perch.

No Regrets

Looking back, I feel fortunate that I chose the path I did.  I don’t know if I would have run into a similar situation, but it would have certainly been more likely if I matched his level of intensity.  I want to always be pushing forward, but I have come to accept that I cannot and should not.  Instead I get up, do the work, be grateful for it and try not to be attached to an outcome, but rather committed to the daily practice of building something.  In some ways it feels like I am giving up.  Maybe I am, but the other cost is simply too high for me.

Today our business is on the ropes.  I don’t know if it will survive, but I know my relationships will.  I can always start another business.

Photo ofJohn Blackman
John Blackman