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Never have more business partners than you can fit in an elevator

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Every partner you add to your business increases the possibility of an interest that will stray from the good of the company. What’s more, a big group of partners is simply difficult to manage. Good communication is the key to a successful partnership, and when the partner group is too large, communication becomes more complicated. If you’ve run into problems, here are some rules to follow to improve a partnership.

Rule 1: Schedule regular and open communication. A formal meeting once a month, either in person or at least by phone, is a must. Review the past month’s performance and talk to each other as owners, not as managers. Discuss matters in your common role as owners.

Rule 2: Clarify ownership versus executive. What you do is your job title. That’s the phrase that tells people what you do all day. If you take “owner” as your title, then you are operating in your mental state as an owner–all kinds of things that have no business being in the mind of a manager. A manager must work at all times for the good of the company. Owners must recognize if they will be involved in the day-to-day experience of the company, they can’t operate as owners. Otherwise, they might steer the company away from its path.

Rule 3: Define roles and responsibilities. When employees and partners do not have defined roles and share duties, risks appear because now there is overlap, which creates conflict. Who is in charge of the areas where there is overlap? That confusion can lead to paralysis or two individuals working at cross-purposes, neither of which is good for a business.

Too often, we are conditioned to see sharing as a good thing, a frame of mind in which we should all strive to be. That might be true in our personal lives, but it can have negative consequences in other settings.

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John Minahan has 15 years of experience with both public and private companies. He is cofounder and owner of a successful and multimillion-dollar media company, which was named one of the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine. Minahan is a trusted advisor to CEOs and executives, a certified public accountant, and author of “The Business Mechanic: 9 Simple Ways To Improve Your Business.” For more information, please visit,


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