WHAT IS A BUSINESS THOUGHT PARTNER?
The concept of a thought partner has been around for some time. In fact, you've probably participated in a thought partnership with a friend, a colleague, or a peer and simply didn't realize it yet you benefitted immensely from the interaction.
If you are a business owner, you likely found a thought partner among one of the many business owners you know. However, these interactions are usually few and far in between due to everyone's busy schedule. Despite your disappointment, you find yourself yearning for more, perhaps, even deeper and longer meetups, especially when new business challenges present themselves.
WHO IS A THOUGHT PARTNER?
A thought partner is someone who can
engage with you on your level,
who you vibe with,
who runs at your pace,
and who can one-up your creative (and sometime crazy) ideas.
You almost always leave the conversations
feeling like you just came from
a wonderful jam session
and created something beautiful
or bursting with a high dose of inspiration,
motivation, and confidence
to bring your idea to life
and into reality
as soon as possible.
The beautiful part of a thought partnership is that it works in every walk of life, whether it's business, music, art, tech, gaming, etc. Thought partners are often muddled with other relationships, like mentors, advisors, thought leaders or coaches since it can embody all the elements of those more commonplace relationships, but a thought partnership has two distinct characteristics that sets it apart from the group:
It's a peer-to-peer relationship
It's a collaborative and synergic approach
In a thought partnership, all parties feel like they are conversing with their peer rather than participating in some form of a top-down power dynamic where the person with the most knowledge on a subject is bestowing their advice to another. Rather than assuming that one party holds the answer, a thought partnership assumes that both parties have parts of the answer, and when combined, you create a solution of greater value than you would have individually.
Thought partnerships value collaboration and synergy
over instruction and guidance.
A more "official" definition traces to a Forbes.com article published on June 19, 2012 by guest writer Rania Anderson.
As she writes, a thought partner is someone who:
Challenges your thinking.
Causes you to modify or change your paradigms, assumptions or actions
Has information or a way of thinking that provokes you to innovate or otherwise leads to value creation in your business, career or life.
WHAT DOES A THOUGHT PARTNER IN BUSINESS LOOK LIKE?
When it comes to business, think of a thought partnership like a strategic partnership which allows for two or more people with complementary business experiences and knowledge to come together and solve for business problem(s). A professional thought partnership relationship is a "do-it-with-you" service rather than a "do-it-for-you" service. Here are a couple of examples:
You are a small business owner with a thriving cleaning company that you want to expand from 6 to 8 figures over the next 3 years, and while you can handle finding the sales revenue to do so easily, you are struggling to figure how to handle that growth operationally.
In this case, your thought partner can be someone who has experience building process-driven and scalable business operations, ideally, in another type of service-based industry whose knowledge can complement your know-how of the cleaning business. Your interactions are harmonized by your shared experience in running small businesses, even if not in the same industry.
Together, you map out various processes in your business and perhaps develop training documents to help your employees learn, follow, and manages these processes. Your though partner can provide templates and training programs based on past experience and you can help update them to match the tone and direction you want for your company. This thought partnership can lead to innovative ways to create a scalable business operation for your specific business.
You've been in business for a few years now and business is booming. But you feel like you are constantly running around putting out fires, you can't seem to ever rely on anyone on your team to do what you need them to do, and you just know that something big is going to give out (probably you) if you don't do something about it soon.
Of course, you are very well aware that the issue is rooted in the fact that you are working IN the business rather than ON it. But, even if you had the time to work ON the business, where would you even begin?
In this case, your thought partner can be someone who's good at seeing things from the 50,000 ft view to spot what you may be missing from the 50ft view. Your business thought partner's experience complements yours so that when combined, innovative and fresh approaches to solving business problems can occur.
Your time together can look like this: your thought partner outlines the order of things to work on derived from their own experience, you fill in the details with what's going on in your company and what you would like to happen, your thought partner helps you to organize your thoughts, and you revel in the chance to speak freely about your business with someone who understands all too well what you are going through and can help you do something about it. Together, you create an actionable plan to start turning around your business.
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By the time I fully exited my business in 2021, I had accumulated numerous "lessons learned" along the way, but one of the biggest lessons I embraced was the realization of how much faster, more effective, and more fun I would had from the start of my business if I didn't go about it alone. I started thinking:
What if I had someone along the way, someone who was on my level, someone understood small business ownership because they were a business owner themselves who can work side-by-side with me to help me push through my mental barriers and create a solution with me?
What if I had someone who's brain I can borrow, available to spitball different ways to solve for a problem so I can then decide which is the best path forward?
What if I had someone who I can share my worse thoughts or explore my craziest ideas about my business with, in confidence and without judgement, as I continue to expand my business and find ways to add more value to my customer and employees?
How much quicker would I have gotten around my business problems and enjoyed the journey to my exit if I simply had someone to turn to who just gets it and is also willing and able to solve my problems with me?
This line of thinking formed the genesis of why I became a Business Thought Partner. Problems are inevitable in every business, but they don't necessarily need to slow you down or beat you up as a business owner. Nor do you have to give away equity or potential risks of bringing on a business partner to take on the business with you.
As a business thought partner, I am that 1-on-1 support to business owners, who is a readily available sounding board, collaborator, strategist, and on-demand problem solver so small business owners and entrepreneurs can overcome any problem on hand faster or with better results.
Finally, from one business owner to another, I can say with absolute certainty that the journey as an entrepreneur doesn't have to feel all that lonely at the top and can be both successful and fun starting TODAY.