建議:避免與人合夥

By Ken Korkow

我非常幸運與三位好朋友──西恩.博奇、唐恩.史密斯和楊朗恩合夥而有成功的事業。然而,根據統計每35個合夥事業只有一個成功;其他都失敗。所以根據這悲慘的記錄,避免合夥會是明智的。問題是,為什麼合夥如此容易失敗?我想有一個簡單的原因:因為問題沒在一開始就處理,在簽署合法文件前就握手合作。

以下是一些基本原則,還有一些提醒的話,供你在冒風險進入合夥關係前思考:

不要與不信者同負一軛。一開始聖經提出這個嚴厲的警告:「你們和不信的原不相配,不要同負一軛。義和不義有什麼相交呢﹖光明和黑暗有什麼相通呢﹖」(哥林多後書6章14節)。就如同你不會讓一匹馬與一頭牛同負一軛,耶穌基督的跟隨者也不應該與那些還不是基督徒的人同負一軛(被綁在一起)。即使雙方都宣稱是基督徒也不保證是好的配合。謝德蘭種馬與克萊德種馬都是馬,但體型和性情不同──即使牠們有相似處,牠們還是不一樣。

糾正的情況又會如何?即使你與基督徒「同負一軛」,若上帝要管教你的合夥人,會發生什麼事?換言之,若那人在他/她的生命中要進行必要的糾正,不論原因為何,你要如何因應?

合夥的目的是什麼?合夥的每一方必須寫下他們對合夥的期待或目標。這些目標不需要完全相同,但必須要能相容。例如:有盈餘時要如何?有損失時要如何?若沒有正式、合法的合夥關係,那些目標能達成嗎?

誰有最後的決定權?當必須作重要的決定時,誰有最高的權力?你是否願意把你的權力全部讓給那人?

每位合夥人的個性如何?你們可能是好朋友,享受在一起工作,也有相同的價值觀,但若你們的個性與工作型態非常不一樣,衝突可能無法避免。

你們是否都同意聖經的原則?在合夥中若意見歧異--不論是短期的做法或長期的目標,解決歧異的機制是什麼?你們每一方都願意用聖經的經商原則解決不合嗎?

將所有細節都以書面寫下。有句諺語說「一支短筆比好記憶力強。」若有需要,清楚寫下你們資產的兩個執行人都容易做到的細節。包括若發生拆夥、無行為能力、死亡、債務、或不誠信時要怎麼辦。

一定要有一個買賣合約。這應該是任何一方,在任何時間,不需爭議,都可提出的合約。若這合夥關係行不通,結束這合夥應該不會引起不必要的問題。

讓你的配偶也參與這過程。我是一個掌控型、有工作狂傾向的人。我常常不讓我的妻子參與我事業上的決定,因為我認為自己有經驗、理性、而且還是企業管理碩士。而我的妻子只是一個學校老師。但我犯了許多愚昧的錯誤,後來我才學到在生活的每個層面我都與人合夥──上帝是我的「管理合夥人」,妻子是我的「平等合夥人」。而且我接受她在我事業上的決定有「否決權」。剛開始我害怕我無法再作什麼好的生意,因為等到我妻子想清楚,所有的好機會都不在了。但漸漸地我發現上帝在她身上安裝了我所沒有的「直覺雷達」;所以我們就避開了許多不好的生意,也享受我們的合諧生活。

肯恩.寇克住在美國內布拉斯加州的Omaha市,在那裡他擔任CBMC的區域總幹事。本篇文章改編自他每週寫的「生活傳真」專欄。我們獲得允許轉載。

思想 / 討論題目
你目前或曾經與人合夥過嗎?若是,那對你是怎樣的經驗? 你對聖經所警告「不要與不信者同負一軛」有何看法?你是否同意這原則?或者你認為這是不必要的限制?請解釋。 依你的觀點,其他哪一項有關合夥的原則最有用、或最實際?這些原則會讓你在與人合夥前更加小心嗎?為什麼? 想想作者的建議,讓你的配偶參與你事業上的重大決定。你認為這是否切合實際?尤其若你的配偶對你的工作並沒有經驗,或沒有專業?這樣做可能會有什麼益處?註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
箴言12章15節,15章22節,19章20節,27章17節;傳道書4章9-12節;歌羅西書3章17節、23-24節

ADVICE: AVOID ENTERING INTO A PARTNERSHIP

By Ken Korkow

I have been very fortunate in having had successful business partnerships with three good friends – Shan Burke, Don Smith and Ron Young. However, statistically only one out of every 35 partnerships is successful; all the rest fail. So based on this dismal record, it would be wise to avoid entering into partnerships. The question is, why do partnerships fail so often? I think there is a simple reason: Because the right questions were not addressed at the beginning, before legal documents are signed and handshakes are exchanged.

Here are some basic principles – and some words of caution – to consider before taking the risk of entering into a partnership:

Do not be “unequally yoked.” To start, the Bible offers this stern warning: "Do not be unequally yoked with unbeliever. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14) Just as you would not “yoke” a horse and an ox together, followers of Jesus Christ should not “yoke” (be tied together) with those that are not-yet-Christians. Even both parties professing to be Christians does not ensure an equal match. A Shetland pony and a Clydesdale are both horses, but are of different size and temperament – even sharing some similarities, they would be “unequal.”

What about correction? Even if you were “equally yoked” with someone, what would happen if God were to discipline your partner? In other words, what would be your response if the person undergoes necessary correction in his or her life, for whatever reason?

What is the purpose of the partnership?
Each party must write down their expectations or goals for the partnership. These do not have to be identical, but must be compatible. For instance: What happens when there is a profit? What happens if there is a loss? Can those goals be accomplished without entering into a formal, legally binding partnership?

Who has final authority?
When crucial decisions must be made, who has the ultimate authority? Would you be willing to surrender all of your authority to that person?

What is the personality profile of each partner? You might be good friends, enjoy working together and share common values, but if your personalities and work styles are very different, conflict might be inevitable.

Do you agree on biblical principles?
If there is a disagreement in the partnership – whether short-term operations or long-term goals and objectives, what would be the mechanism for resolution? Would you both be willing to use the Bible and its principles for business to resolve conflicts?

Spell out ALL the details in writing. There is a saying, “A short pencil is better than a long memory.” Make it so clear that if necessary, both of the executors of your estates could easily wrap up the details. Cover what would happen in the event of divorce, disability, disinterest, death, debt, or dishonesty.

ALWAYS have a buy-sell agreement. This should be an agreement either party can initiate, at anytime, without dispute. If the partnership does not work out, ending it should not cause unnecessary problems.

Involve your spouse in the process. Being a controlling, workaholic risk-taker, I often would not involve my wife in business decisions. I had the experience, I reasoned, and an MBA. Liz was only a schoolteacher. But I made many foolish mistakes until I learned that in every phase of life I was in partnership – with God as “managing partner,” and with my wife as “equal partner.” And I accepted that she should “veto power” over my business decisions. At first I feared I would never do another good business deal again, because by the time Liz figured it out, all the good deals would be gone. But slowly I learned God had equipped her with ‘intuitive radar’ I do not have; as a result, we have avoided MANY bad deals and have enjoyed a life that works for us.

Ken Korkow lives in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A., where he serves as an area director for CBMC. This is adapted from the “Fax of Life” column that he writes each week. Used with permission.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Are you now, or have you ever been, in a partnership? If so, what has that experience been like for you? What do you think of the biblical warning against becoming “unequally yoked”? Do you agree with that principle, or does it seem unnecessarily restrictive? Explain your answer. Which of the other principles regarding partnerships seems most useful or practical, from your perspective? Would any of these cause you to take additional precautions before entering into a partnership? Why or why not? Think about Mr. Korkow”s recommendation to involve your spouse in major business decisions. How realistic is this, in your opinion, especially if your partner does not have experience or expertise in the kind of work that you do? What could be the benefits of doing as he suggests?NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review some other passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses: Proverbs 12:15, 15:22, 19:20, 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Colossians 3:17,23-24

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