There is nothing as hard as getting the right business partner. If you thought getting the right marriage partner was a challenge, try getting a business partner. I actually think its just the same. I have started up a couple of ventures over the last number of years and in all these years, I have worked with a number of people. From deceitful individuals to unreliable individuals to talkers and none doers.. the list goes on.
Let me tell you about one of my latest partners – I am hoping I can change him before he becomes another ex-partner. Lets call him David. David is a great guy, very talented and hardworking too. David however, has a problem of being over ambitious and lacks commitment. I know this because I was David a few years ago. Unfortunately I learnt that the hard way and learnt to change a few things about myself.
I met David after I stumbled on one of his works, honestly I was impressed with what David was doing but just like many Ugandan businesses, David had no business around what he was doing. He had a relatively good product with no process and no people around it. I met with David and enlightened him on the potential of the idea he was working on. He was very excited and for days he couldn’t stop calling me asking me when we were going to start working together. The day came and we sat down and worked out a plan and rolled into action.
A few days, weeks went by and all was fine until the business hit its first bump; the demand became slow. Please note that this was not because the product was bad or the marketing was bad, no! It was simply because our processes were not yet fully in place. The product had gone through a number of improvements but it was not yet there. David started getting impatient and a friend of his introduced him to Tour and Travel business and showed him a dream of what sort of money they could make. David without warning, came to the office when I was not there and packed up and left – ever had a partner that did that to you? Yeah, in University a girl did that to me. Apparently she did not know how to tell me that she had met someone else. Remember my comparison of a marriage partner to a business partner?
I did not go after David when he left – yea, I am a very arrogant man sometimes, my wife hates that about me but I most times can’t help myself. Anyways, a few months later, I got a call from David begging me to meetup. Yes, begging! I said to myself, he is a good guy, talented and means well, let me meet him and see what happens. I swear to you our meeting was like a girlfriend-boyfriend-make-up meeting. So many promises were made, so many apologies shared… it was actually emotional, in a way. Long story short, I took David back. With lots of conditions obviously.
He was excited and swore to me how he is now focused and committed. A few weeks later, David started showing the same signs that he did before. He started running late on deliveries, he started coming up with all sorts of side businesses and ideas – businesses/ideas that were making him late on what his primary role was. So many times when he is talking to me about these ideas, I am listening and thinking, what is happening to this man?!
Anyways, I am right now seated on my verandah with a hot cup of tea, enjoying the cold breeze and wondering what should I do with this partner of mine? Giving up is something I promised myself not to do anymore, I want to shape him in place but I do not know if I have the patience and the energy to see it through.
Did I mention that David ALWAYS gets funny whenever he gets some money? Yeah! I just sent him a hundred thousand on to get started on some work for this week and he went to the office – again and carried out office equipment – again, that he is going to work from somewhere else, I do not know where and nor was this move discussed! Honestly, I am hoping and praying that he is probably going to work the whole night and didn’t want to do that at the office.
I want to put the blame on him being a millennial but I don’t know.
Oh well, they say you can never get the perfect partner but you work with the one you get to make them the right partner. Here is to project David.
PS. If there is one thing that I have learnt in all my entrepreneurship journey is that persistence and focus are KEY in the success of any startup. Without those two, you are as good as not starting.
PSS. I know you might be wondering why I used a picture of my wife and I on this post. See, my wife and I are completely different people – sometimes anyways. But, we have managed to find ways how to work out our differences. If it wasn’t for focus and persistence, we would not have lasted a year in our relationship later on marriage.