Help me deal with a difficult business partner
July 26, 2011 3:04 PM Subscribe
I've started a company with someone that I have trouble dealing with. What should I do about this business relationship?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
More details below. Anonymous because he reads this forum and might figure out that this is me.
About six months ago, an acquaintance, M, approached me about starting a company related to some work I am doing in graduate school. We incorporated, and both put money into legal fees, software, getting a domain, etc.
We both have a few other projects going on, so things have been moving slowly. I'm still in graduate school and have some side projects; he just finished his (unrelated) masters' degree a month ago. He also has a consulting business on the side.
We are now building momentum. I have the technology based on my graduate school work, he's a salesman type, and now we have a possible third partner (an old friend of mine) who can do the programming.
I'm struggling because I'm having a lot of trouble getting along with M.
Being around him is emotionally demanding. I'll email him and say, let's talk this afternoon about xyz. And then he'll call me right away, because he knows I'm online. If I don't answer the phone, he gets upset. He wants to talk for hours about his ideas, and I can't get any work done (for school, which I still attend) or on this project.
His concerns have to be worked around, but mine are negotiable. He has some hobbies that he spends a significant amount of time on. When he is busy with them, the time away is non-negotiable. If I have a conference for graduate school, he says things like "You can still work during the conference, right?" He has a consulting business and has to travel for work, but isn't willing to change his travel schedule.
He's very touchy and defensive about his competence. He pretends like things are his idea when they are not. He gets angry when his ideas are questioned.
He's a salesman type, very persuasive, very good at getting his way. He's from an extremely wealthy family and has had everything he wants in a material sense. He also says very snobby things that annoy me, like "Who would wear that awful suit?" or "Ibiza is so last year -- you have to try x instead".
To me, he's demanding, narcissistic… just exhausting to be around.
On my side, I tend to avoid him when I get stressed out. I sometimes can't deal with talking to him and I'm hard to reach.
I've talked with M about this, and he doesn't seem to get it. He tries to empathize and is nice about it, but nothing changes. He is from a non-Western culture, so I try to be sensitive to those issues, but he was raised in Europe... so it's not entirely a cultural thing.
It's a great business opportunity and I'm excited about the prospects for the company. I'd hate to miss out on the opportunity due to interpersonal issues.
Another question is whether I should leave graduate school. I am a bit frustrated and tired of my program, but leaves of absence are not well thought of. I could leave, but I might not be able to come back. He has said nothing on this point, other than "do what you have to do".
- How do I get along better with this person?
- I have a lot of other projects going on… graduate school, side projects, etc. Should I do this at all?
- I'm afraid that he will push me out of the company as this new person gets more involved. I'm also thinking it might be perfect to put them together and then leave the business.
- Have you been in a situation like this? How did it end? What helped? What do you wish you had done?