Running a business is stressful, especially for RIAs. Building and maintaining a client book, getting through the mountains of paperwork to register with the proper authorities, keeping an eye on marketing, compliance, client portfolios, and so on and so on. It’s enough to wear you out.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a partner to help keep everything straight? Well, yes and no.
Bringing in a partner, whether you’re just starting out or have already established your business, can be a great thing. They can handle some of the day-to-day, they come with their own clients and expertise, and having someone else equally invested in your business can make a huge difference.
But having a partner doesn’t always make things better. Unless you approach partnership with the right mentality, everything could end up blowing up in your face—your relationship with your partner, as well as your business.
If you’re already in a bad place with your partner, don’t give up—there’s a chance things can be salvaged. But it’s going to require some changes on your part.
Today, we want to look at four ways you can shift your thinking to help maintain—or save—your partnership.
1. Focus on what you can control
The easiest thing to do in any relationship—professional or personal—is to spend all your time pointing the finger at the other person. If he would only try harder, if she would just do better.
And maybe that’s true. Your partner may have some serious flaws that affect everyone on your team negatively. Maybe they come in late or aren’t doing their share of the work.
Whenever we speak with an advisor who is struggling with resentment toward their partner, I always think of that line from the Serenity Prayer:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
One of the biggest sources of conflict for RIA owners is when they get stuck on things they wish they could change about their partner. Every interaction is soaking in unspoken resentment about all the ways they wish the other person was different.
But here’s the thing: The same advice your parents gave you when you were five is still true as an adult—you simply cannot control other people.
So what can you control? Your attitude, your approach to your partner, how you spend your time—in short: you.
The sooner you adjust your focus to the things on your side of the road and stop lamenting how your partner handles their side, the sooner you’ll feel better.
2. Always look in the mirror first
In addition to focusing on what you can control, it’s important to approach your partnership with humility. In other words, if things aren’t going smoothly, consider how you may be contributing to the problem before blaming your partner.
If you think you’re not contributing to the problem at all, then that’s a red flag. There is always room for improvement. If you think your partner is the only problem, then you’re not looking at yourself realistically.
Ask yourself a few questions and answer them honestly:
- Where am I doing well?
- Where could I improve?
- Am I satisfied with my current direction and efforts?
Maybe you’re bringing a negative attitude to the workplace, maybe you’re complaining about your partner to your employees, maybe you’re so focused on your own tasks that you’re leaving everyone else to fend for themselves. The only way to find out is to look in the mirror.
3. Pursue truth above all else
This can be a painful process. You may find that you carry a bigger portion of the blame than you originally thought.
If, in the course of examining your current issues, you find that you have areas to improve, don’t hide or ignore them. The only way for things to get better is through a commitment to finding the truth—not preserving your own (or someone else’s) ego. If your own self image comes before an honest work environment, then you may see some improvement, but things will never be as good as they could be.
The same goes for issues with other people on your team. Pursuing truth can mean you may have to confront your partner about areas they can improve, whether it’s the quality of their work, their attitude or something else.
When the time comes to bring issues up with your partner, do so generously. Even when you’re armed with the truth, if you present it in an accusatory or vengeful way, you’ll never get anywhere.
4. Assume the best about your partner
If you’re struggling to view your partner in a positive light, you have probably attached some pretty negative adjectives to them.
Lazy. Selfish. Inept. Dumb.
If any of these resonate with you, then you have some work to do to get yourself out of the hole you’ve dug. Do your best to assume that your partner is doing their best. If you suspect them of being too dumb or selfish to do the work—or worse, if you think they’re actively working against you for some reason—then you’re never going to be able to unite around your shared goals for your RIA.
Remember: You’re on the same side
It’s common to get so caught up in your frustrations with your partner that you forget that they are, in fact, your partner.
You have the same goals. You play for the same team. You are both equally invested in creating the best outcome here.
Now how are you going to change your situation today?
Want some help navigating a difficult relationship with your partner? Our team of industry veterans knows what it takes to build successful teams from the ground up.