ENTREPRENEURS take only “reasonable” risks

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How REASONABLE is the risk

of combining client interests?

It may very well be that when you decide to merge the activities of two or more clients who you think have compatible interests, you will get stung! You may be setting yourself up to suffer the consequences of their inadequacies.

It’s not just what you see on “COPS”–Odds are that more police officers will be killed and injured in response to a “domestic (family fight) call” than even a robbery or high-speed car chase. Why? Because battling relatives often turn on the police who are entering their home. They see the officers as invading their space and interfering in their private dispute.

Police crisis intervention training calls for officers to immediately separate warring or arguing members of a household to physically go to different rooms, or at least different sides of the same room as a tactic for diffusing the anger, preventing themselves from being set upon, and for setting the stage to encourage reasonable discussion and negotiation.

When you attempt to combine interests of different clients you service on the grounds that you see some mutually beneficial commonalities, you need to be careful in your assessment that you are not an unwanted invasion of one or both clients’ privacy.

Maybe, for example, they simply don’t WANT to work with one another. Maybe they’ve tried it or talked about it in the past (even generations ago) and decided NOT to combine interests. Maybe one suspects the other of undermining. Maybe there’s some professional (or industrial) jealousy present. Maybe one of them suspects you of having ulterior motives. Maybethe employees of one business don’t like the empoloiyees of the other business. Maybe

ASK each client to be forthright about the idea…what each thinks of it, what each thinks she or he can gain by it, how–exactly– each feels about the other entity. ASK each to reassure you that each is totally supportive BEFORE activating any part of the plan. Meet ahead of time with each separately, and then with both together. Make sure they share the same understandings and goals.

Starting to sound like pre-marriage counseling?Absolutely! In fact, if you perceive even the slightest edge to any of these discussions, a pre-combined-interest agreement might even be in order. OR you may simply decide the winds are not favorable, and back off the deal before anyone steps up to the plate.

Let the track-records of the clients and your personal instincts be your guide in deciding between pursuit, abandonment and modification. Make certain the risks to all involved are “reasonable.”


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