Say No to Creating Business Partners

Dear Dave,

I own a moving business, and I have a good, smart employee, who is currently my general manager, and he wants to invest in the company. We're growing and doing pretty well right now, but we could still use the money. How would you suggest that I structure things?

Daniel

Dear Daniel,

You're not going to like my answer, because I wouldn't do this deal. You've got a nice company right now that's making money and growing. Just be patient and let it grow. Don't rush things.

If you bring in a partner it's liable to complicate everything. This person is going to develop a whole new set of opinions on how things should be done. I've got a close friend, who is older and wiser than I am, and he's got a great saying: "The only ship that won't sail is a partnership." I tend to agree with that, because when you take on a partner you end up being joined at hip. You're not just getting the business side of the guy. You'll be stuck with all the personal baggage and problems that could interfere with the business, too!

Let's separate this into two issues. On one hand you've got a quality employee, and you'd like him to help you carry the load. So, maybe it's time for you to build your first layer of leadership. That means it's time to delegate. This guy is obviously responsible and someone you trust. Take it to the next level and develop the relationship even more. You want to be on the same page about everything with him, even to the point that he can finish your sentences and know what you want done in every situation. You could even reward him for this by cutting him in on the profits. That way, you give him the emotional ownership and desire to carry the load with you.

The second issue is all about how to grow, and the word to remember is slowly. Buy used equipment, pay cash for everything, and stay away from debt. You're probably going to see some good things happen if you just stay calm and run this thing lean and clean. Then, set aside a percentage of your profits each year for additional trucks, new crew members and things like that. You won't be an overnight success, but you'd rather be the tortoise than the hare. Remember that story? The tortoise wins every time!

- Dave

Comments and feedback can be sent to feedback@ldsliving.com