A business partnership is a relationship, and if something fundamental isn’t meshing, you have to make a change.
Years ago, I was about to go into business with a very talented, knowledgeable person. Let’s call that person Alias.
Alias seemed like exactly the type of person everyone wants to work with, but there was a problem—Alias could be incredibly rude, judgmental, aggressive, and would call people out without compunction. I never really understood why Alias was pessimistic all the time, especially because we were going into a service-based industry.
Maybe that personality would have worked well in a different industry, but it wasn’t a great fit for either the business or myself. I broke things off after spending a good deal of time and energy trying to make it work.
I see young entrepreneurs caught up in the same trap all the time. They think they’ll miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime if they pass up a chance to work with a talented, influential person in their industry. But the truth is, if you can’t stand the person you’re working with, the partnership will end up draining you.
Here’s why talent or influence can’t be your only criteria for choosing a colleague:
Working with talented people you don’t get along with can quickly turn into a nightmare.
It’s easy to understand why a lot of people end up working with someone who’s disrespectful or rude.
They tend to do exactly what I did. They put up with bad behavior and tell themselves it’s just the price of working with this talented person. They imagine all the abuse they take will be worth it in the end. And they make themselves miserable in the process.
For the longest time, I told myself that if the ultimate business was successful, none of it would matter. But after a while, I began to notice how Alias interacted with other people in the same rude manner. I realized I couldn’t do anything to change our dynamic.
Sometimes, a person just isn’t the right fit.
Instead of trying to force a relationship that isn’t working, find one that can work.
In the end, I had to admit to myself that Alias and I needed to go our separate ways.
I’m naturally a much more diplomatic person, and maybe Alias needed someone who could be more aggressive and match the same energy. Maybe Alias needed to be in a different line of business, where the personality traits would be welcome.
But with me, it just wasn’t working.
If this sounds like the story of a breakup, that’s because, in a way, it is. A business partnership is a relationship, and when something fundamental isn’t meshing, you have to make a change.
I know it may feel as though you need to work with this person in order to move your career forward. But trust me, they aren’t your only option. There are plenty of other talented people out there who you’ll actually enjoy working with.
For example, the experience with my former partner actually led me to begin collaborating with my current business partner, Sam. While it’s clear Sam and I have two different personalities, we have the same underlying beliefs and values. So it doesn’t necessarily matter that he’s gregarious and outgoing while I’m a little more of an ambivert. We support each other and agree on the fundamental aspects of running a business. From there, its healthy to slightly disagree on details from time to time to move something forward and not get stuck in a bubble of yes-people around you.
And no surprise, business really took off once I started working with Sam. You’ll find that everything is smoother when you really enjoy the talented people you work with. It’s a lot easier to find success when you’re not wasting your time and energy trying to force a bad relationship.
Placing values and good relationships over pure talent isn’t just about becoming successful or making money, either. It’s about holding onto your dignity and your sense of self-worth.
You’re affirming, “This is who I am. This is what I’m willing to accept. This is what I won’t accept under any circumstances.”
Not only does it feel better to put your foot down by only working with talented people you get along with, but it also assures that you’ll have stronger, more prosperous partnerships.