Tensions rising between business partners

Dear Roseann

About 6 months ago I started a business with a long-time and much respected colleague.  Things started off with a huge bang!  We got three major clients immediately and everything had been going great until last week.

I thought I was doing my share and felt proud of my contribution but my partner blew up at me after a client meeting last Friday.  She criticized my approach with the client and said she thought my suggestions made us look naïve and inexperienced.  Since then there’s been lots of tension and I’m not feeling creative or motivated.  I spent the weekend angry and spent this week bracing myself for her next complaint.

I’m afraid if we don’t fix things between us I’ll be ready to quit.  I tried talking to her but she accused me of being too sensitive and said we didn’t have time to process every interaction between us when we had work to do and deadlines to meet.

Do therapists ever work with business partners?

Carla – Logan Square

Dear Carla

First, congratulations on the success of your new business.  And 2nd, good for you for recognizing that the quality of your relationship with your business partner is crucial to managing the continued success of your growing business.

Research shows that 65% of startups fail because of interpersonal tensions within the founding team.  We all long for the same things in our professional relationships that we want in our personal relationships:  emotional safety, a sense of belonging and value, appreciation, trust and empathy.  In work partnerships we want to feel inspired to express the best versions of ourselves. 

So, the answer to your questions:  Do therapists work with business partners is an absolute YES!  Therapists understand the forces that block connection and the strategies that build them.  They can offer guidance on ways to wage good conflict and suggest ways to repair the inevitable disconnections that happen between people in the process of building a business.  It makes sense to get help before the tension turns into relational hopelessness and one or both of you gives up on the business and on each other.  A relational therapist can help you both find ways to get back on track after hitting a bump like the one you described.

I suggest talking to your business partner and agree on getting help together.  Just like a new business might need financial or legal help to get started and keep growing, your relationship is the foundation of your business and getting relational help to support the thing on which all else rests is a wise investment.

Let me know if you’d like to set up a first meeting.  Wishing you continued success.

Roseann

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