If you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur; it’s a good idea to develop self-awareness in terms of what you’re good at and what you’re not. Your great idea may never amount to anything if you aren’t any good at showcasing your idea, following through on the details or managing the employees you’ll need in order to build your business.
When you know what your strengths are, then you can create a plan to compensate for your weaknesses. Often, partnering up is the best way to do this.
Your first thought may be: “But I want to be my own boss!” or “But this is my idea and I know best what I want and need to do!”
The truth is: we all have blind spots. You might be so in love with your idea that you won’t take proper note, and properly address, the conflicts and potential problems that may arise with your idea. You might be so in love with the idea of owning your own business that you don’t recognize what it will entail, how much work you’ll be doing that you don’t enjoy or aren’t very good at.
Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller, authors of “Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life” posit that there is a powerful myth behind this blindness: we are often sold the idea that we can do anything we want to if we work hard enough and that we can become whomever we desire if we learn enough. This idea underlies the image many of us have of the successful entrepreneur but it isn’t true.
Every system—a business, an organism, life and evolution itself—relies on checks and balances, divisions of function, and separate efforts that contribute to the success of the whole. Thinking that you can serve every function well, do everything yourself, be all that is needed for every aspect of your business, only pulls your enterprise or idea down into mediocrity. Your business becomes successful when you do what you do best and find the best people to perform the functions that you’re not so great at. When you understand and leverage your strengths; you come to understand that you’ll never excel at jobs and roles that you don’t have a natural talent or aptitude for.
Are you thinking of launching a start-up with your spouse? Your brother? Your friend? It’s important to consider whether your partner complements you, whether you each have different skills and abilities that will best work together for the best outcomes. If you’re the inventor; do you have an implementer? If you’re about the big picture; who attends to the details? If you need time to think about and develop products and services; who is out there showcasing your business, promoting it and building networks of use?
Thinking you can be and do everything will only hurt your business in the long run. Partnering up doesn’t just double your enterprise’s likelihood of success: when you and your partner truly complement each other; the results are exponential.
Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer’s long and tumultuous partnership finally ended in 2014 but that still doesn’t diminish the fact that it was one of the most successful entrepreneurial partnerships ever. Gates was the technical architect and Ballmer the business strategist. Gates was the head and Ballmer the heart. Gates could see the big picture and Ballmer could communicate this vision to others. Gates trail-blazed while Ballmer smoothed ruffled feathers. While Gates led Microsoft into the future; Ballmer was needed to lead the company and its employees.
Wagner and Muller give other examples of such effective partnerships. Warren Buffet credits many of his successful investment decisions to his cohort, the “abominable no-man”, Charlie Munger. Munger’s cautiousness tempered Buffet’s enthusiasm. Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Skoll worked together to make eBay successful. Omidyar enjoyed the people-side of the business while Skoll implemented the business practices they needed to make the vision a successful reality. Cont…