Development

How do I deal with a 50% business partner who can’t hold up his promises?

Hello, this is Laura Lee Rose. I am a speaker and author. My background is in time and project management.

I help busy professionals and entrepreneurs create effective systems so that they can comfortably delegate to others, be more profitable and have time to enjoy life even if they don’t have time to learn new technology or train their staff. I have a knack for taking big ideas and converting them into smart, sound, and actionable ideas.

At the end of the day, I give people peace of mind.

Today’s question came from a busy entrepreneur about his marketing plan.

How do I deal with a 50% business partner who can’t hold up his promises?

Right now I own 50% of a technology startup aimed at real estate agents. I am responsible for developing and maintaining the upkeep of all the software associated with our business. The other partner is in charge of selling the product, however, he gets way too distracted with other life things such as his real estate work. Although he makes promises and tries to motivate me to keep working on our business because he will “sell the crap out of it”, I still don’t feel a solid effort on his part. Should I try to find a way to kick him out or continue to engage him to sell our product? Thanks.


Whether you are partnering on a work project or in a business – if you feel that your partner isn’t pulling their weight – then you may be part of the problem.

Never a 50/50 partnership


The first problem is that your partnership is 50%. Never agree to a 50/50 partnership. For a business to successfully move forward, you need 1 decision maker – 1 tie breaker; even if it’s 51/49 partnership. By starting a 50/50 partnership you are setting yourself into a possible stalemate. And if you cannot have a amicable discussion and agreement on who is going to be the 51% – then it’s best to re-evaluate the business arrangement.

Business partner:

If you have not done this already – take the time to document a business plan with roles and responsibilities for each partner. The business plan should include SMART goals for each partner (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant to your business, and timely/time-bound). Your business plan needs to include consequences (what happens when the SMART goals are not met or delivered).

Including SMART goals (milestones on when you both agree that the goals will be met) – you will have a better footing on whether he is making a solid effort. If/when those milestones or deadlines are not met – then you follow-through on your “consequences” –or next steps that you both agreed to upfront.

Taking the time upfront to map this out saves you a lot of anxiety in the future.

Understanding each role’s timeline

Having a better understanding of each other’s role and timeline is also a good idea. Not every role has the same goals or results.

Take Tom and Jerry. They are partners. Tom is the technical end, the developer. Jerry is the marketing and sales person.

Tom’s SMART goals are often associated with features, what each roll-out is required to do and the timelines for each roll-out or release. These are very specific and measurable goals. And the majority of the time, Tom is only dependent on his execution to make his goals and deliverables.

Jerry, on the other hand, will have a mixture of deliverables. Some results will totally be dependent on his execution (marketing flyers, landing pages, calendar of events, brochures, release party, etc). But some of Jerry’s deliverables are relying on others: customer calling back, customers saying “YES”, customer being available for a demonstration, etc. Because Jerry’s timeline is dependent on others, it may take Jerry longer to show results. Because Tom doesn’t see immediate results on Jerry’s work – Tom may mistakenly feel that Jerry isn’t making a solid effort.

To avoid this, Jerry needs to create SMART goals regarding his calls. He needs to setup a goal of how many client calls, client visits, networking meetings, speaking engagement and events that he will be responsible for producing each week, month and quarter. He also needs to be responsible for his lead to sales ratio formula. If he knows that for every 10 people he talks to, he makes one sale. And his sales goal for the month is 10 sales – Tom needs to talk and visit 100 potential clients that month. With those numbers, Tom needs to create his sales schedule to meeting and talk to 100 unique people a month, and follow-up with the interested clients in the same month to convert those leads into sales. These are the kind of goals and numbers that Tom needs to commit and track.

Understanding how the marketing works will release some of Jerry’s anxiety, because Jerry now understands that it will take some time to see the sales. Showing Jerry Tom’s call sheets each week will also release some of Jerry’s anxiety, because Jerry now sees that Tom is making all the calls that he needs to be making to meet his leads to sales ratio by end of month.

Co-worker partner:

As an employee in a larger company, you can use the same strategy. If you haven’t already done this, create a Personal Business Commitment (PBC) document that outlines all your responsibilities and roles. This includes SMART goals and consequences for not meeting them. This includes your expectation of your manager, your co-workers and yourself. This also includes steps to follow when things are not meeting expectations. With measurable goals – it’s easier to see if your co-worker is not meeting their commitments. Then you can follow the documented steps when people are not meeting expectations.

I know your situation is different. Why don’t we schedule an appointment, where I get to know more about your unique situation? And then I will be happy to make recommendations on what your best steps are moving forward. To schedule an appointment, book it HERE.

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