Copreneurs: Stay Aligned With Your Business Goals

by Pamela on August 2, 2010

Avoid Unwittingly Undermining Each Other

How do successful copreneurs avoid undermining each other? Communicate, communicate, communicate.

One of many challenges facing copreneurs is staying focused on a common goal (success) and setting priorities to achieve it. Each partner has their own work style. Often this leads to each person going down his own path, hoping to meet in the middle. It’s actually OK to go down your own paths, as long as you know each other’s route and you make sure to meet at a certain check points. Working toward a common goal takes constant effort. You can’t just muddle through your day and expect to stay aligned with your partner.

When I work with copreneurs, I start with a request for each partner to clarify his/her goals for the business, in order of importance. We then compare the lists and it’s interesting to see the similarities and differences. At the top of each list is usually the common goal of making money, which isn’t too surprising. Goals 2, 3, 4, and 5 can be similar, but are often listed in a completely different order. This disparity often causes copreneurs to unwittingly undermine each other.

Copreneurs need to be on the same page when it comes to priorities. When your goals for the company are in sync, and your path to reach those goals is clear, you build a better foundation. You need to remember that you’re part of a team and both of you have a role. Avoid overlapping efforts or ignoring something altogether by constantly communicating and clarifying roles.

Think of your business as a living, breathing thing. Let’s call it a plant. Plants need sun, water, and plant food (and if you’re so inclined, it needs sweet talk). However, if you water it every day, it could die. If you forget to water it for too many days, it could die. If you feed it too much, it could die. If you talk to it too much….well…you probably need to get out and socialize more. Bottom line- it takes care to make your plant grow.

Now suppose that you and your partner are both caring for the plant but neither of you knows what the other is doing or when. You could both water it, both feed it, both forget to water it- you get the point. Either way, despite your good intentions, it’s not good for the plant.

Work together to keep your list of business goals in sync. You are copreneurs, and you are individuals, so the way you reach your goals may be different, which is OK as long as the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. Constantly define your goals and your strategy to reach them, and realize that both may change as you take action. Finally, you each need to play to your strengths, which I’ll cover in a future post.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. I’ve said that many times, and it’s worth saying again and again.

How do you and your partner keep your goals and priorities aligned?

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Liz August 3, 2010 at 1:42 pm

My husband and I are copreneurs and this post really hit home. I may even ask my husband to comment here as well. We do sometimes fail to keep our plans and ideas in sync and actually, what happens is we assume the other one agrees with what we’re each thinking and doing. If you make enough small changes to the big plans without communicating to the other person, it sends those plans off in a totally different direction. Something that we were enthusiastic about, is now suddenly off. And it all happens while the other person hasn’t even noticed 🙁


Pamela August 5, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Hi Liz-
This is the reason communication is so crucial- because things go awry when we don’t notice or check-in with our partner. When you are working on something and it becomes obvious to you that a new strategy is in order, or you come up against a red flag, this is the time to confer with your partner. It’s not always practical to interrupt him at the very moment that you have your revelation, but write your thought down, move on to something else and set aside time to discuss it with him so that you can deal with the problem and adjust the plan/strategy appropriately. Hopefully, he will agree to do the same.

I often come up against the argument that daily meetings are a nuisance because they take too much time away from actual work. When one partner feels this way, I often ask him or her “What takes up more time? Meeting for 30 minutes each day to go over daily goals and strategy, or having to completely re-work something (or worse- scrap something) because you didn’t take time to communicate with each other?”

I would argue that short, daily meetings take up less time in the long run and save lots of headaches.

Hope that helps!


Russell August 3, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Excellent article Pamela, I do like the analogy of overfeeding the plant because both partners are both doing the right things, but in an uncoordinated manner.

For my business one thing that gets in the way of good communication is differing communication styles; my partner prefers verbal while I prefer written. This can make syncing up the goals difficult for me as only my side of the whiteboard has anything written on it, and I need to disturb my partner to have a conversation but the timing is not always right.

Pamela, do you have any suggestions that allow us to improve the quality of our communications?
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Pamela August 5, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Ahhh- the other half weighs in!
Hi Russell,
Differing communication styles are both common and challenging. There is a compromise for everything. Both you and Liz have mentioned communication as an issue in your partnership. You prefer written communication and she prefers verbal. I’d be interested in knowing how close your desks are to one another!

As I said to Liz, I am a big proponent of daily meetings. They needn’t be long, and yes, you have to verbalize! However, since Liz isn’t one for the white board, how would you feel about filling in both sides of it as you set goals together, and then amend it as needed depending on what you discuss in the meeting?

I also see that you are both concerned with interrupting each other. Perhaps you could use meeting time to bring up any issues that arise? Or, if the nature of your business warrants quicker response time, you could designate a short time slot a few times per day to address any concerns. You could even use the white board! Whenever either of you has an issue that you need to discuss with the other, write it on the white board, and when check-in time comes, it will be written right there so that you can discuss it.

There, compromise.

Of course, if I were coaching you just now, I wouldn’t have just come right out and told you what to do, but this is a blog and you asked…:-)

I hope that helps. Keep me posted.


Liz August 8, 2010 at 9:22 am

OK – you’ve sold me on the daily meetings. They would save considerable time especially as we both make unilateral decisions far too often.


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