Saturday, February 20, 2016

Male Business Partners: How to Handle the Minefield

Has anyone else noticed how tricky it can be to partner with guys on entrepreneurial projects? When wives or girlfriends are not comfortable with it openly or subtly, so there is a constant limitation on when and where you can work, how often you can talk, how to market yourselves? Surely it is not all possible business partners who have mates, but it is common.

This stinks! If you are bootstrapping high-potential business ideas, when do you work on them? At homes, in the evenings. Not during the workday when at day jobs. Not middle of the day on weekends, when doing family and kid stuff. So that leaves odd hours and the easiest places to meet: home. This also sucks because men are a majority of eligible business partners, just by the numbers.

We’ll leave aside the very different topic of budding romance in a business partnership, or going into business with a romantic partner. This scenario assumes no romantic interest between the business partners, regardless of what others may assume or be fearful of.

No judgment or analysis on why the women aren’t comfortable with it. It is what it is. The feelings are fair, and the guys need to manage their home life. Little we can do will change the females’ perspective- verbal assurances could just feed insecurities. And going into business with someone is a major relationship in their lives so will will get scrutiny and curiosity.  His mate may be a critical source of support and outcome of the venture. Let’s focus instead on what can be done to minimize chances of it impacting business success.

Here are a few places to start.
1. Screen this factor as selection criteria when deciding whether to start a venture together. Have the awkward conversation upfront, rather than months into your project when the person feels like they can’t put in enough without risking home strife. Choose a partner whose home partner supports the mission: your business venture and what it will take to launch it well.
2. Keep an eye out for solid female or single men business partners. They may be harder to find and should you choose someone less well-positioned for success based just on this? Depends.
3. If you are in the situation, ask the partner what you can do to support easing the discomfort. Respect any boundaries and accept the reduction in pace that may come with it. Some recommend bringing the female into the conversation- or business operations- but that feels like another potential minefield. Always friendly and respectful: yes. A third de facto business partner? That's a major decision. 

What are your thoughts and ideas? Any success stories on overcoming an initial challenge in this space?

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