In years and years of listening to business success stories and failure stories, this series is intended to highlight three of the most common business mistakes that tend to harm businesses before tackling the operational challenges related to products, customers, team culture, and market strategy.

In part 1, I shared about looking to grow too quickly and, as a result focusing on short-term performance over long-term results. Part 2 covers the over-utilization of debt. Debt is commonly leveraged to provide a pathway through the corridors of the start-up phase and to fund inventory, facilities, and beyond. While it’s often seen as “cheap” money, it can prove incredibly costly over the long haul and when the economy or market takes a turn.

The third painfully common mistake relates to partnerships for a host of different reasons. Whether the partner is a comrade, brings a particular strength or financial resources to the table, choosing the right partners for the right reasons and with directional clarity can be the difference between an incredible ride and destination or a nightmare roller coaster.

The following are a handful of questions that jump out as business partnerships are launched:

  • Why partner?
  • What does everyone bring to the table?
  • What are the values we have in common and those we don’t share?
  • What’s the best thing and the worst thing that could happen?

So often, these questions are shortchanged as a couple of friends or relatives chase after the urgent priorities found within the launch phase. Unfortunately, as the business evolves, challenges arise, seasons of life change, and the endless decisions create turbulence, and hairline cracks begin to form at the partnership’s foundation.

All in all, while it may seem self-evident, the careful and thoughtful conversations around the business in its many forms is critical. Far beyond the owners involved, the impact of a partnership relationship is widespread, whether strong and healthy or toxic and dysfunctional.

Cheers to selecting great partners in life and business and learning to be one as well!!

What are some of the other painfully common mistakes in business? I would love to hear what you’ve seen or experienced along the way!!

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