Nothing Happens Until Someone Executes

I am always asked to participate in ventures, join alliances, and partner with businesses.  Rarely do I get involved.  And, my rationale for saying “no” seems to upset a lot of people as a result.

Having been part of the business world for nearly 3 decades, and a business owner myself for over 2 decades I’ve come to understand it’s easy to have an idea.  Executing the idea is a different story.  There are very few people out there that have the commitment, tenacity, and conviction.  But, most of all most people are just plain lazy!

I know, this is a little harsh.  And, people have said so more than once.  Then after things get started, more often than not, that person says the same thing later.  I just try to figure it out before I waste the most valuable asset I have as a business owner – TIME!!!

So, how can you get there earlier in the process to figure out whether someone has what’s need to execute?  It’s actually simpler than most people think:

[list style=”arrow” color=”grey”]

  • Let them know how you approach these relationships upfront
  • Share your objectives before you start
  • Provide trials to evaluate their commitment
  • Establish a plan with milestone, responsibilities, and completion dates
  • Evaluate performance against the plan regularly


That’s easy enough.  So let’s take a look at how it works.

First, getting involved in any of these business relationships is no different than hiring an employee.  The only difference is there isn’t an employer/employee relationship established.

So, the process is the same as hiring an employee.  If you’re not willing to put this amount of thought and planning into this relationship up front, then ask yourself, “Am I really committed to the idea of this relationship?”

You should at least have your desired outcomes, objectives along the way, and the level of quality you expect to see everyone working to documented.  Most others won’t go to this level.  So, don’t be surprised.  But, lead them through the same process for their side of the relationship so you understand what they want too.

Here is the first check point.  Ask whether this idea provide you both with what you both want from this business relationship. If not, can you change it to get a win-win, or should you just walk away as friends now.

Next, give them a simple assignments/action items with dates for delivery.  See if they follow through.  This relationship will probably not be the highest priority to either of you.  How they approach lower priority tasks will show you their level of commitment.  When they have a lot to do, do they blow off low priority tasks or work twice as hard to get everything done?  This is a real indicator of what kind of person you’re working with and how they approach commitments to others.

Here is another checkpoint.  Not following through now is an indicator of what’s to come.  If they cannot accomplish simple commitments now, how will they react to more complex ones later?  Think about how undone tasks will impact your time and desired outcome?  It may be time to punt!!!

Finally, whatever you’re working on is a project.  So, treat it like one!  Establish a list of tasks.  Assign responsibilities.  And, set deadlines for things to be completed.

With a plan in place it’s easy to hold people accountable and evaluate performance. Make sure that you check-in regularly.  You can see who’s holding up their end of the agreement and who’s not!  With facts in hand it’s much easier to make a more objective decision and cut ties faster when needed.

On the plus side, managing relationships this way will help get things done faster and provide for better communication.  As I said at the beginning of this post, TIME is your most valuable asset so getting done faster is always a plus!

Share some of your disastrous business relationship.  What caused them to go south?  Would having gone through this process upfront help avoid the problem?

If you are discussing a relationship with another business use this process.  If you need help, DE, Inc. has helped develop dozens of strategic alliances for companies.  Contact us if we could be of assistance to yours.



  1. Avatar
    Charles D. Shapero, CPA
    October 31, 2012

    I love this article.

    When I took my final management class prior to graduating with my bacherlor’s degree in business, I remember experiencing the lack of follow-through and commitment from my fellow students who were also graduating. Those final group projects were murder because my expectation of my fellow students was much higher than what I was experiencing. I could not believe the lack of motivation at THAT LEVEL of college and would have thought all the unmotivated people would have been weeded out prior!

    And when your grade is riding on the GROUP’s performance…if they drop the ball, you ALL lose. Thus it’s really important to “baby-sit” those people to protect your GPA.

    Now that we are in business, to find that your fellow business owners are so unreliable…is simply shocking. Even when it comes down to meeting a referral partner for lunch at noon and they arrive at 12:15 and seem to think that it’s ok. Astounding!

    Thank you for a great blog post!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.