Round and round

I have something going round and round in my head right now, and I can't stop being mad, so I'm going to put it here and hope it helps.

I have two business partners.  One, we'll call her K, is a good friend, really smart, and a little spacey.  When we agreed to open the business five years ago, we agreed that we'd all be there working full time within two years.  The third partner, J, started full time immediately.  I worked at the school for two years part time, part time in the business, and then quit the school and have been full time ever since.  K has never quit her other job.  She also likes to work late afternoons and evenings in our office, which means often weeks go by without us seeing her.  And she's not real good at responding to emails and texts.

This drives J crazy.  She wants K to work the same day hours that she does, and she wants K to put her availability and appointments on the office calendar so she can see them.  K is not going to work day hours even if she quits the other job, and I think she's just not putting her availability on the calendar to bug J.  Anyway.  That's a mild irritation in my life.  90% of the time K and I get along fine.

J works really really hard.  She takes the business very seriously.  She is a control freak like you've never seen, and I say that as a really major control freak myself.  She does most of the administrative work around the office, because nobody else can do it the way she wants it done.  That's fine, she does a great job and I'm just as happy not to have to mess with it.  I bring in about twice the revenue she does, she does a lot of the busy work and we share.  I am happy with this arrangement, but it bugs her.  She also wants to make more money out of the business (as do we all but I don't lie awake at night being angry about it).

So as I mentioned before, we decided that our current office wasn't working out.  We've been looking at new ones.  We picked the one I liked the best, that has room for all of us and a little room for expansion.  It's only half a mile from our current office so convenient for clients.  J was in charge of negotiating the lease, mostly because she's the best at that stuff but also because she won't be happy with whatever agreement we come up with if she doesn't do it.  We made our best offer  The landlord countered with their best offer.  We were less than $1000 a year apart.  And she said no.  She said it's too much, and she will quit if we pay that much.  She projected out how much we'd pay over five years, freaked out over the total and is now saying we should just stay where we are.

This isn't possible for several reasons.  The rest of the floor is rented to a church, and they have noisy activities going on, including band practice several nights a week.  J doesn't work in the evening, so she says we should just all work days and it's not a problem.  K isn't going to work days.  She just isn't.  Also, they're building a light rail station literally in our back yard starting next year, and widening the street that you take to get to our office.  It's going to be a mess.  J says it won't be that bad.

J does this.  She hates spending money.  Whenever we do, she freaks out, gets angry, and often threatens to quit.  She accuses us of pressuring her.  Which, yeah, sometimes we do, because businesses need to spend money.  Last spring our tech guys suggested replacing our firewall to get better protection.  I was all over that and said yes, let's do it.  We know bad guys want to get into our data.  I am all about protecting ourselves.  J got so worked up about it that she ended up screaming at me that they were ripping us off and we didn't need to spend that money.  And I was pressuring her and she's going to quit.  I finally left the office so I didn't say something I'd regret.  All over less than $1000.  And of course she got her way because I'm not going to fight when we have a functioning firewall.

As I write this, she sounds totally insane, and that's the thing, she's not.  She's smart, she's fun, she works really hard and the business is better for having her in it.  And I need someone who keeps an eye on money, because I am happy to spend freely.  Three quarters of the problem is she feels guilty that she isn't bringing in more money, but she's the only one who cares about that.

So.  If she quits, then we don't need as big an office, so we won't be spending so much money, so then she won't want to quit.  And then we'll need a bigger office, and we'll be spending more, etc.  This is all very annoying.  The Realtor we're using told us the price the landlord offered us at the place we all liked was a really good price for the area, and the office would have been perfect.  I am just bummed.  And now we have to start the process of looking again.  And it has been reinforced for J that all she has to do is threaten to quit and she'll get her way.  The obvious solution is to tell her to go ahead, but I don't want her to leave.

So that's what I'm fussing about tonight.


  1. You have my sympathies! Partnership is hard. One thing that helped my former partner and me was working with a business coach who helped us through some difficult conversations. But, I am guessing here, J isn't going to want to pay for that. Hope you find another good office. With a window!

  2. This is a very tricky and complex situation and you've explained it well. It sounds like the business is better with her in it, in spite of her idiosyncrasies. I'm relieved that I don't have to deal with this; many years of being department chair in a school and facing drama and conflicts between various people and philosophies was enough for me. Ugh!


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