In 2001, I resigned from a full-time faculty position to enter the world of the self-employed. I had been coaching part-time for a few years while I gathered the courage to leave behind a career in clinical social work and university teaching to launch my coaching business. In the past seven years, I have learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to build a successful business, both from my own experience as well as from coaching other self-employed professionals. There are some common themes that have surfaced among my self-employed coaching clients. They often find building a successful business to be daunting, particular for individuals who have never been self-employed. They face the formidable challenge of having to do it all: marketing, bookkeeping, business development, and service provision. Working independently, they frequently experience a persistent sense of self-doubt and isolation which—at its worst— can sabotage their ability to successfully create a thriving business. A powerful solution to this problem is a concept I created with a fellow coach. It is called a Business Success Partnership, and it has had a powerful impact on our respective businesses. What is a Business Success Partnership?
A business success partnership (BSP) is a professional relationship created by two or more self-employed individuals for the sole purpose of ensuring that each individual’s business becomes wildly successful! It replaces overwhelm with synergy, and results in greater ease, momentum and enjoyment in owning and operating a successful business. The conditions that create a winning success partnership are:
- A relationship based on mutual trust, genuine caring and respect
- An agreement to maintain confidentiality
- A strong belief held by each partner in the other’s potential for success
- A readiness to be actively engaged in growing one’s business
- A commitment by both partners to honor the importance of the relationship
A Business Success Partnership is NOT:
- Business or Life Coaching: a professional, client-centered relationship in which coach charges for services.
- Consulting: a professional relationship in which consultant charges for services and provides expertise and/or hands-on support in a specialized area such as: marketing, business development; public speaking; writing.
- Strategic Alliance: peer relationship in which two or more businesses partner on a specific product or service.
- Business Partner: an arrangement in which two or more people are legally and financially bound within and to the business.
What are the benefits of a BSP?
- Mutual Accountability: We hold each other accountability for the things we say we will do.
- Clear Structure: We have a clear structure that we follow each time we meet.
- Shared Expertise: We both have different areas of expertise that we use to support each other in our businesses.
- Honest Feedback: We offer each other consistent support, objectivity and honest feedback that is invaluable.
- No Collusion: We are deeply invested in each other’s success. That means we call each other on our ‘stuff’.
- Cost Effective: There is no money exchanged between us.
- All the benefits of a partnership without merging our businesses!
The business success partnership provides the structure, support, and accountability to assist each partner to successfully grow her business. My partner and I meet face-to-face every two weeks for approximately two hours for progress meetings. We each bring an agenda to structure the meetings. The agenda may include any of the following:
- Business Development: What projects am I working on? What have I followed up with since our last meeting? What challenges am I currently facing?
- Vision: What is inspiring me and giving me energy? What breakthroughs and realizations have I had? What lessons have I learned? What new ideas and possibilities have surfaced?
- Service Provision: What work have I completed? What new work is booked right now?
- Product Management: What products/services do I currently offer? What new products need to be developed based on what is currently booked? By when?
- Administration: What systems are in place? What’s working well? What needs to be delegated or outsourced?
- Accountability: What I need from my partner at this time is…
Results: Since our business success partnership started in 2003, my partner and I have assisted each other in building our businesses in several ways:
- Attract More Ideal Clients: We have both gotten clearer about who our ideal clients are and have put strategies in place to attract more ideal clients.
- Business Expansion: We have both expanded our businesses in ways that are aligned with our visions.
- Greater Focus: Our relationship had helped us become more focused and productive in carrying out tasks and activities on a daily basis.
- More Fun: We are both having much more fun as entrepreneurs!
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