What constitutes a partnership in a business full of type A personalities? I have changed my opinions on this topic based on both positive and negative experiences over the years of trying to make this idea work. The following are my observations based on my own failures, successes and those I have seen elsewhere.
The Principle of Debt Equity
To have a partnership in any business, the exposure to risk needs to be equitable. Quite simply, if I own property and my partner does not, I have more skin in the game. As a result, I have more to lose if things go south. I am not saying both partners have to have the same financial footprint, just that this must be discussed in the beginning, and ownership of the entity must reflect this disparity.
This is the person who generally decided that they want to work in this field. This is the guy that took the time and money to invest in him or herself to obtain the required licensure, obtained training, and pounded the streets to get business to support this idea. When hunting together, it is usually the Alpha partner’s vehicle, he pays for the gas, insurance, food, hard and software, and equipment. If there is an office, he is usually the person responsible. If there is court research required, he is the guy that can find the time to brief the case. Databases? Yes they are in his name too. Guess who also gets the 1099 from the bondsmen clients?
This person can rarely find time for research, or hours of surveillance. Their car is always broken down, out of gas, or the significant other needs it. This person never has the time, money or the inclination to invest in, or better themselves with licensure, training or continuing education. They have no money to chip in for gas, insurance, vehicle maintenance, database fees, office rent, food or even their own smokes. They can always find time when the apprehension is eminent. What do they want for their efforts? HALF of the fee earned! What other skills do they bring to the table? They can sleep during surveillance, transports to the jail, and when you are trying to get them to back you up. They are also experts at approaching your clients and telling them that they can do the job cheaper than you, they do all the work that you take credit for, and it was their skills that caught the last guy! How long have they worked with you? Less than three months or less. Does any of this sound familiar? Which partner are you?
The point of this discussion is to inspire thought about the topic and develop feedback. I can count on both hands the number of hunters that have been consistently producing results for multiple decades, incident free, post apprehension. I cannot name one of their partners. What do they all have in common? They don’t quit, EVER! They have a singular focus that drives their success. They have all experienced more Beta Partners than they can recall. Jim Collins, in his book “Good to Great” discusses A, B and C players, who you want on your bus, and who needs to get off. All decisions made before you put your bus in gear or decide the direction. Please be cognizant of your own risk, what each player brings to the table, and what your exposure is. We are in this business to mitigate liability, and this includes our own! Be safe out there.