3 Lessons I Learned in Buying out a Partner in 2019

Published by Jenna on

I’m a private person when it comes to most things in my life however on occasion, I have thoughts which I feel I should share with each of you in hopes you can learn from my own failures and tribulations.

Some of you may not like what I have to say and that’s ok. You too may wish to express your thoughts to me or share something you’ve learned and please do not hesitate.  

Aligned Core Values are Everything in Successful Partnerships

I was born to two public school educators in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania and feel extremely privileged to have learned early lessons about living simply, with gratitude, and having a deep rooted respect for being able to wake up every day with freedom.

My father was 1 of 12 children, a former Division I wrestler, and raised by a successful businessman and alcoholic. I’m completely grateful for the “tough love” and winner mentality my dad instilled in me early. My inner self laughs most days when I feel like I’m operating on a V8 engine and want to slow down. The good news in running fast is I’m very self aware of who I am, my imperfections, and what I want out of this very short life.

In 2013 when Guardian Owl was formed I didn’t need more money, I needed freedom to live on my own terms, away from Corporate America. I had been making 6 figures every year since I was 23, living below my means, investing in real-estate assets, and being practical. 

As Malcom Gladwell said, “Any fool can spend money, but to earn it, save it and defer gratification- then you learn to value it differently.”

As much as I knew this about myself at 24 and in my personal relationships, I didn’t realize how important this is in business relationships. If the goals and vision of the business are different, the repercussions are endless.

The way you treat employees, the way you invest money, the way you forecast growth, hiring and firing, etc. Everything feels misaligned if fundamentally the “why” isn’t aligned. There is nothing wrong about values being different, however as your company grows, those values will be tested and tried. It’s very hard to scale and accomplish big dreams when these are different.

Ultimately as majority owner in the company, I took ownership, swallowed my ego, fear of money, and bought out my reluctant partner’s interest in Guardian Owl Digital.

A good friend of mine asked what it was like during it all. Honestly, it felt like walking in a world that was on fire for four months, not knowing if I’d have enough water to put it out all while operating the business, consulting clients, and bringing in sales to hit payroll.

She reminded me of a quote;

 “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” – William Penn

Invest in Your team with Zero Expectations that it will be returned.  

Having to put employees in the middle of a business buyout was excruciating. Being a product of divorce and a considerably empathetic person it weighed heavy on me everyday. I understood the risks involved with my decision, but I didn’t know I was about to learn more about managing people in 6 months than I learned in the last 3 years combined.

The first team member we welcomed into the nest years ago decided to leave with my former partner and start a directly competing business. 

The decision hit me hard as I thought I deserved more reasoning, more of a conversation, or more respect for what I had given as an employer, and a friend.

The reality is, no one owes me anything. I always operated by the notion that no one owes me anything in life and I got punched in the gut when I made the mistake of thinking business was any different. 

Some people will choose not to be with you for reasons that have nothing to do with you. When that happens, learn to “get back up” as quick as you can. It’s easier writing now but I was pretty embarrassed and humiliated that I made that mistake and let it affect me as it did. I lost 15 pounds, cried all the time for weeks straight, and ultimately felt the loss of a business partner, and a good friend.

What I want more than anything else for those reading this is to understand this simple truth that can set you free in business and life: no one owes you anything.

 Stop Caring About What People Think About You

I’ll never forget attending my first field hockey camp during the summer of 1996 ran by Linda Kreiser, a legend in the field hockey world. I came from a family of collegiate athletes and I knew this camp was going to be a benchmark for me in how I stacked up against Lancaster’s elite. (Lancaster, Pennsylvania is where 87% of all Division I field hockey players are recruited and currently the home of USA Field Hockey.)  

My parents had a rule where they didn’t purchase new sports equipment for a sport you weren’t committed to practicing. I didn’t think much of the rule until I showed up to my first elite camp at Lower Dauphin.

There were hundreds of girls from all grade schools across the county. When I showed up, I was immediately teased for how ancient my field hockey stick was and my unorthodox shin guards. I literally didn’t have the socks to cover the guards. I realized quickly that one, first impressions do matter but more importantly, the shape of the stick was so out of date that it was more difficult to control the ball than the newer carbon sticks.

Old Field Hockey Stick Example

When expressing my concerns and real deterrence to my abilities in succeeding at camp without a new stick my parents sighed and pointed outside to the lawn where I could go to practice to get better.  

All week I remember showing up everyday, not knowing anyone, and feeling inferior for not wearing the right sock labels or even having a “real field hockey stick” at my disposal. I’d stay after and practice in hopes that would lead to a “purchase” from my dad but it didn’t.

By the final day of camp, I had been running on so much fury I was exhausted of it all. The last day was all games and competitions where, despite my stick, I actually walked away with a few accolades. 

After final ceremonies, I remember walking to my dad’s car spotting something wrapped in the passenger seat with a bow. There was a sticky note on the stick that I wish I still had to this day.

“The talent is in the player, not the stick” – Linda Kreiser

From that moment forward, I was myself on the field and played my own game always. There is little doubt in my mind that small gift of mental clarity given by Linda, aided in my journey to a full field hockey scholarship at the University of Louisville.  

The reason many don’t have these same moments of clarity in business is because they care so much about the judgement of others. 

Over the past several months, it’s been brought to my attention people have made judgements about who I am as a person, a friend, and a business owner. I’ve heard complete lies, truths, as well as fabrications of the truth. The good news for me is that I don’t hear you.

“The results are in the leadership, not the business” 

Don’t let what others say slow you and your goals down. If you let others dictate your truth you will never be able to find yourself in life or business.


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