It’s always an exciting time when you start a new project, especially if that project is a collaboration. It often begins with many huddled meetings in coffee shops, where all the possibilities seem endless. When my friend Terri Trespicio and I set up our business Lights Camera Expert we knew we were onto a winner because our skills complement each other so well. She loves looking at the big picture and I’m into the details as you may have guessed.
We do a lot of speaking and present workshops to experts, authors and entrepreneurs who want to get media attention. We’ve been told time and again that we have great chemistry and play off each other very well. Someone even asked if we’d teach a class on how to collaborate better.
Sadly not all collaborations work out so well. I’ve been part of a few duds in my time. Part of the issue is being really in tuned to the other person’s work style because there are signs your collaboration might not work out if you know what to look for.
Here are some red flags:
Forgetting key details – You’ve just had a really productive meeting where you finalized a few key items, it all seems to be going well. But the next time you speak your partner can’t remember what was finalized or the specific points you discussed. While we all forget sometimes, if this becomes a serial pattern it can be the sign of a bigger problem. If this happens frequently I often find that my collaborator has too much going and is trying to juggle too many plates. A good project needs to have all parties focused in order to ensure it’s success.
Taking too long to reply – When you work on a “side hustle” together there is an inherent understanding that all parties involved have to set aside time to work on the project outside of regular obligations. So it’s normal to take a day or two to get back to someone. Anything beyond that though could be a red flag. If you’re waiting a week between every email correspondence it makes it pretty clear that your partner might not see your project as a priority. Many times people want to be part of something, but don’t actually set aside the necessary time to follow through.
Backtracking on decisions – Making decisions is not easy, especially if you’re starting up a new business. It can feel like every decision can make or break you. So when it comes to making a decision it’s good to weigh all your options. Once you’ve reached a conclusion you can move on to the next key decision. When someone keeps changing their mind it can not only be frustrating, but it’s a pretty good sign their heart just isn’t in it. Or that this is a sign of things to come down the road.
Having too many new ideas – Ideas are quite literally the backbone of any new project. But too many ideas can also be your downfall. The problems come when there’s no follow through. If your collaborator has a new idea and puts in the work to make it happen then you’re all good. It’s when they have another new idea before they’ve even started working on the previous one that can be a sign this collaboration might not work out.
Complaining about past collaborations – We’ve all had collaborations that didn’t work out. I had a very short lived event planning business with a friend. It was fun while it lasted but didn’t have legs. No need to linger on the past. I learned a lot from that collaboration, but I don’t bring it up all the time. If someone you work with expresses bitterness about several previous unsuccessful linkups, it could be a big red flag. If this person has an issue with multiple people and lot of partnerships that have gone south – you should be careful before continuing on.