A large number of small business owners have two owners. This is very often a husband and wife team. Let’s face it—when one spouse starts a business, it soon becomes the focus of the whole family and your spouse often becomes your partner—even if it is as an unofficial partner.
Many other businesses have brothers or sisters who partner together or just two friends who decide that they should start a business.
All of these businesses are prone to the same problem: No one is really in charge! Whenever there is more than one leader in any organization, you end up with:
- No one person having final authority
- No one person making the important strategic decisions necessary to survive and thrive
- No one person taking credit or blame for success or failure
- No one person taking responsibility for the completion of important tasks
You also end up with no one person giving direction to the employees. Employees will often act like children and play each partner against the other. Or perhaps like your own children, they know which partner to ask in order to get the answer they want!
What this inevitably leads to is argument, distrust, hard feelings, and in extreme cases, divorce, family feuds, and loss of friendship.
The worst outcome is a failing business that could otherwise have survived.
I have found that the answer every time is found in Michael Gerber’s classic business book The E-Myth Revisited. It has a great chapter on how this problem manifests itself in just about every partnership.
More importantly, he provides the solution: The old-fashioned organization chart!
In the video below, I discuss in detail how every business with partners can make the partnership work, thereby allowing the business to survive and grow.