Welcome to My Business Partnership Mastery Series


Hi everyone, this is Brett Cenkus. I’m a
business lawyer and I am The Startup Shepherd. I do a little bit of start
consulting out of that brand. Out of my business law practice I do mergers and
acquisitions, capital raising, and I do partner and founder structuring and
disputes. You recently downloaded my book Partner-Proofinging Your Partnership. Thank you for doing that. If you haven’t read it, give it a read. It’s a short, quick
read, but it’s got some valuable information in it. I’ve gotten a lot of good
feedback since I put it out there, some of which was. “we need more, we need you to go a little bit deeper.” It’s hard to cover in a 50 or 60 page eBook the level
of detail you might want on a certain topic. And, you know when I try to put
stories of real-world examples in it, you know, it’s a book, right. It doesn’t always
scream…doesn’t always spring to life, let’s say. So, I decided to put together a
series of short videos where we’re gonna go a little bit deeper on the concepts
that are in the book. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s okay. We’re gonna hit the
concepts with enough of this kind of surface level stuff so you’ll know what
we’re dealing with, and if you have read the book, this is going to give you a
little bit more meat on the bone. We’re gonna dig it a little bit further and
sort of grapple with these issues at a more fundamental level – applying them in
the real world. And, so this week as I was planning this intro video I had two new client meetings about partner-founder disputes. In both situations the companies are, you
know, reasonably successful – beyond kind of small business level. One of them has
four founders in it, one has two. One has a lot of paperwork, one has none. By the
way, if you have no partner founder agreement, that is something
you need to do, so give me a call about that. It’s a lot of what I do. But what’s
common about these situations is there’s a real disconnect between what
my client, who in each case is one of the one of the founders, believes he
is bringing to the table and what the others apparently think they’re bringing
to the table. So, there’s a real disconnect between who’s pulling the
weight here, okay. Which is quite common. In both of these cases, part of my job is
to read through what’s there (well, in the one that has contracts, the other
doesn’t even). But, to understand and help advise about the lay of the land legally.
But, in both cases it’s also to figure out, okay practically, how do we get to
where we need to go from here, right? Neither of these situations, even though
they’re both reasonably successful businesses, is there are enough money to
litigate. Litigation is extremely expensive and time-consuming and it’s a
lose-lose all around. People joke that the lawyers are the only one only ones
who win in litigation, but even I don’t even know if they really do. It’s just
everyone is so unhappy at the end of the day. It’s why I hardly ever ever do it,
but I will help do mediations and things kinda on the front end to try and keep
people out of litigation. So, in both these cases my job is to sit down and
help plan: what are our options? What are our best alternatives given what we’ve
got? Sometimes it’s the better bad choice, but
how can we get to where you need to go? Where do you want to go? To my to my
client, helping them just navigate this world. And, I realized that what I’m doing
here is partly being a business lawyer, partly applying my years of business
experience. I’ve got a career outside of law. And, partly just trying to understand,
with some degree of impartiality, what the other founders are thinking, you know.
How do we navigate this world. So, it’s quasi-legal, quasi-business, quasi-just
relational. And, that’s really why I wrote the book. There’s a lot of information
online. You can read other people telling you why you want to vest your equity, why
you need a partner founder agreement, the benefits of a 50/50 partnership versus a
49/51. I mean there’s a lot of information out there. The lens through which I see
this, I believe, is unique. It’s unique because I have a career in business
outside of law. It’s unique because, you know, I’ve got that business lawyer hat,
and then it’s unique because I bring a very relational approach to this stuff.
Sometimes it’s a little squishy and makes people a little bit uncomfortable.
But, in the end, a lot of times we don’t have a fundamentally purely legal
problem on our hands. We have a relationship problem. And, that’s what we
need to…we need to figure out. So, that’s what you’re going to get in these videos.
You’re going to get a mix of just hardcore legal nuts-and-bolts concepts. You’re gonna get some business experience and you’re going to get a
really healthy dose of the relationship side of things – human motivators, if you do
this what’s your partner going to be thinking, stuff like that. We’ll
tackle all of that. We’ll do in a series of short videos. If you’ve read the book
or if you do read it and you’ve got some questions about it, want to see me go
deeper on some of those topics, email me. Check me out online at CenkusLaw.com. And, we’re still putting together this series, so there’s still opportunity to
address things that are on your mind about it. In the end, this is all about
making your business partnerships much more effective and much more successful. The data is out there. Noah Wasserman, he’s a Harvard Business School professor,
wrote a book called The Founders Dilemma, and in it he said over 65% of businesses
fail because a founder conflict. At the same time, the data is out there that
you’re more likely to be successful, you’re more likely to go further, it’s
easier to get money, there’s a lot of reasons that you want partners. And plus, it’s just hard. The journey of starting something up is just – your up one day and down the next, and it’s really nice to have other people along for the ride. But,
you do have a risk when you’ve got a multi-founder startup or business that
solo’s don’t have, and that’s that your partnership itself – your dynamic with
your partner – can derail the whole thing. So, that’s what we’re gonna attack we’re
gonna attack in this series of short videos. I want to hear from you if you’ve
got something on your mind. The first video, we’re going to tackle a
topic that, if you only listen to one of my videos, if you only bring one thing
to your partnership and you’re not intentional about anything else, but you
bring this one thing into the partnership, you are gonna be okay. So,
stay tuned for that video. Thanks!

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2 thoughts on “Welcome to My Business Partnership Mastery Series

  1. I think the reason some partnerships fail is 1 word. GOAL. once the Goal is accomplished there is no direction.

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