Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Business is like a marriage

Dear Ella,
Why are some people so full of themselves? It makes it very hard to like them, let alone be friends.
I have worked with Tamara for almost 10 years. We’re real estate partners. Clients seem to like us, and on a professional level, we fit well together. However, on a personal level, it’s an entirely different story.
Tamara was raised by her mother after her father left. She lived in a six-plex apartment for most of her life. Her mother struggled to make ends meet. Tamara wore second-hand clothes and never had anything that wasn’t a necessity. As an adult, she has overcome those difficult days, but her feelings of inadequacy have led her to overcompensate by leading a lavish lifestyle and thumbing her nose at people who have less than she does.
Tamara is good at her job, but she constantly points out material items that she feels makes her better than her clients, her peers and me. I find it harder and harder to be around her, but would hate to break up our successful business partnership.
Deep down, Tamara is a sweet girl and she has many traits that I like, but somehow her need to appear richer than everyone overpowers any of her goodness.
Should I cut my losses and get out of this relationship, even if it means a setback in my career?
Partnership Problems

Dear Partnership Problems,
A good fit in a business partner is like a rare jewel. It’s very hard to find someone who is perfect. A business partnership is like a professional marriage. As a matter of fact, you might spend more time with your business partner than your spouse. Like any marriage worth fighting for, it needs constant work – lots of compromise, communication, trust and equality.
The first thing you need to do is define your relationship. It sounds like you would like Tamara to be more than just your partner. A successful partnership has to have more assets than liabilities. That applies on an emotional level as well as a financial one. If the emotional part carries too many liabilities, the financial end will suffer.
A good business partnership doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be good friends. It means you have to get along and work well together with the goal of making your business succeed, and it sounds like you’ve done that well.
What you haven’t done is define in your own mind where the relationship’s boundaries are. If you’re searching for a partner who can also be your friend, perhaps Tamara is not that person. She has insecurities that run deep, and it doesn’t sound like you have the desire to address them.
If you decide to continue with your real estate partnership, you need to communicate and set ground rules. If not, cut your losses by getting out now. The sooner you dissolve your business association with Tamara, the sooner you can find a partner that you are more comfortable with, in all aspects of your relationship.

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