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Entrepreneur Insights: 6 tips for successful business partnerships

Entrepreneur Insights: 6 tips for successful business partnerships

Posted on: July 25, 2013
Author: ATB Business & Agriculture

Dr. Ian Giebelhaus shares what he's learned in six years of running a successful veterinary practice with Dr. Grady Barton.

Owning your own business is hard enough when you have to communicate with humans. Imagine how frustrating it can be when your customers are chickens.

That's the challenge faced by Dr. Ian Giebelhaus, second-generation veterinarian and owner of Rimbey Veterinary Clinic. Thankfully for Ian, he has a great team of fellow animal-loving humans to work with—most notably his business partner Dr. Grady Barton.

Ian and Grady have worked together for nine years and been business partners for six. In that time, they've developed a strong working relationship founded on trust and timely wisecracks.

If you're thinking about going into business with someone, here are Ian's six tips for a successful business partnership:

  1. Find someone you can get along with—all day, every day.

    "I think we both have a sense of humour that challenges our staff to a significant degree some days, but this can be a fun place to work, and we like that. We like to work hard, but we like to enjoy it as well."
  2. Trust each other.

    "If he's going to take some time off and go away, he knows I'm back here working hard to look after the business, and vice versa. We have that trust."
  3. Know your own faults, and come clean about them.

    "I'm not the easiest person in the world to work with—I have a shirt that says 'I'm not always right. My ideas are just better than yours.' Grady tolerates that."
  4. Commit to the business (and your clients) equally.

    "We pour our hearts into this profession. We are there for our clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year... That takes a pretty big toll, and what we can hope is that the people we are there for, the people that we work for, appreciate that. And, by and large, you know what? They do."
  5. Share the responsibilities—and the great ideas.

    "Having a business partner is a big weight off my shoulders; I don't have to be the be-all and end-all for every decision. There's always somebody else to say 'Hey, what do you think? How would you do this?'"

    "We want [this business to thrive] long term, and having a partner in a business like this helps ensure it's going to be long term."
  6. Discuss those tough topics (like who's the more handsome business partner) and then put them behind you.

    "There isn't much discussion [on who's more handsome], because that's pretty clear cut," Ian says.

    "There's no discussion," Grady confirms solemnly. "It's obviously the shorter fellow." *

To hear more from Ian, Grady, and other successful Alberta entrepreneurs, visit our We Grow Alberta page

* Editor's Note: For the record, Ian is shorter.

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