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Lessons Learnt

Greg Tinkler On Managing Business Breakups

Greg Tinkler from Cre8tive Group learnt the hard way that not all business partnerships are a match made in heaven: Sometimes, you have to call it quits.

Monique Verduyn




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Serial entrepreneur Greg Tinkler has started a number of businesses over the last eight years. Some have failed, others like The Cre8tive Group, one of South Africa’s biggest brand activation agencies in sports supplements and pharmaceuticals, have grown into thriving companies. What all of these ventures had in common is that they were built on partnerships.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Getting Partnerships Right: Lucid Holdings

“I have had some great partners and some who were not so great,” he says. “But I feel there is a place in business for partners. There are those who can inject cash into your business, or bring in skills you don’t have. However, it’s extremely important to choose carefully.”

We asked him to share some candid insights from his most recent foray into a new business venture – one that failed, but gave him some deeper insights into how partnerships should work.

What was the background to the new partnership?

Late last year I started a new business venture in sports management, an industry I know well.

I needed a partner who could inject some cash into the business so that we could compete with more established agencies, and who also had corporate connections so that we could raise sponsorship revenues.

I approached a long-time mentor with the idea and convinced him that it was a winning strategy.

Why did the partnership fold?

Greg-Tinkler-Cre8tive-GroupThe business never took off and it was a trying time for both of us. My partner grew frustrated with the revenue leaking out, and I was disappointed with the lack of support and time he was giving to it.

Basically, we made the mistake of failing to manage expectations from the start.

As a busy man with multiple businesses to run, he was looking for a partner who would manage the business and bring in the revenue and returns; I was looking for someone who would invest sweat and energy.

A valuable lesson learnt is that before you sign off on any business partnership, you need to outline exactly what each party is responsible for and how much time each partner can provide to the business.

I also learnt that mentors do not always make good partners. My mentor is an exceptional business person who is extremely successful, but I was unwise to think that teaming up with him would automatically make my idea a success.

Did you have agreements in place to protect your interests?

Yes. After assessing if a partnership can work and outlining all expectations, it is imperative to have a professional partnership agreement drawn up. I recommend using a legal professional to do this. It can be costly, but it will save you a lot in the long run if there are any issues to resolve.

A partnership agreement should contain the following:

  • Percentage of ownership (who owns what stake in the business)
  • Allocation of profits and losses
  • Expectations, designations and roles
  • A buy/sell agreement to manage what happens in the event of the death of one of the partners
  • A dispute resolution mechanism to manage what happens if you don’t agree on a key business decision (I suggest a mediation clause).

What would you do differently in future?

Don’t get into a business venture purely for profit and do not just take on a partner because they have capital.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Head Honcho Spurred Business Growth with Strategic Partnerships

How did you recover from this setback?

Because it was a mutual decision to part ways, there was no real harm done other than the knock to my ego.

I went back to the drawing board and looked at how and why the partnership did not work, and then set about crafting a new strategy to make the business happen. I have decided to continue on my own.

It will probably take longer to reach the goals I’ve set down, but I am doing it at my own pace, with the right drive – and that’s what counts.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

Lessons Learnt

Richard Branson’s ABCs Of Business

Throughout the year, the Virgin co-founder shared what he thinks are the essential elements to success.



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If there’s one thing Richard Branson knows, it’s how to run a successful business.

Throughout last year, the Virgin founder shared what he thinks are the keys ingredients to building a successful company with each letter of the alphabet, which he slowly revealed through the 365 days.

From A for attitude to N for naivety to Z for ZZZ, check out Branson’s ABCs of success.

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Lessons Learnt

How Reflexively Apologising For Everything All The Time Undermines Your Career

How can you inspire confidence if you are constantly saying you’re sorry for doing your job?




I’m one of those weird people who gets excited about performance reviews. I like getting feedback and understanding how I can improve. A few years ago, I sat down for my first annual review as the director of communications for the Florida secretary of state, under the governor of Florida.

I had a great relationship with my chief of staff, but I had taken on a major challenge when I accepted the job a year prior. I didn’t really know what to expect.

Youth takes charge

I was 25 at the time, and everyone on my team was in their thirties and forties. I came from Washington, D.C., and was an outsider to my southern colleagues. I was asking a lot from people who had been used to very different expectations from their supervisor.

I sat down with my chief of staff who gave me some feedback about the challenges I had tackled.

She then paused and said to me, very directly,”But you have to stop apologising. You must stop saying sorry for doing your job.”

Related: 8 Valuable And Inspirational Web Series You Should Check Out

I didn’t know what to say. My reflex was to reply sheepishly, “Umm, I’m sorry?” But instead I immediately decided to be more cognisant of how often I said I was sorry. Years later, her words have stuck with me. I have what some may consider the classic female disease of apologising. When the New York Times addressed it, five of my friends and past coworkers sent it to me.

In it, writer Sloane Crosley got to the heart of the issue:

“To me, they sound like tiny acts of revolt, expressions of frustration or anger at having to ask for what should be automatic. They are employed when a situation is so clearly not our fault that we think the apology will serve as a prompt for the person who should be apologising.”

Topic of debate

I’ve talked at length with other women trying to figure out this fine balance. The Washington PostTime, and Cosmopolitan have all tackled this topic. Some say it’s OK to apologise; others criticise those who are criticising women who apologise. Clearly, I’m not alone in dealing with this issue. In fact, I’m constantly telling the people I manage that by apologising they give up a lot of their power.

Related: Want To Feel Empowered? Check Out These 17 Quotes From Successful Entrepreneurs And Leaders

Here’s the bottom line: Don’t apologise for doing your job.

If you’re following up with a coworker about something they said they’d get to you earlier, don’t say, “Sorry to bug you!” If you want to share your thoughts in a meeting, don’t start off by saying, “Sorry, I just want to add…” If you’re doing your job, you have absolutely nothing to apologise for.

That’s what I think. And I’m not even sorry about it.

This article was originally posted here on

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Lessons Learnt

10 Quotes On Following Your Dreams, Having Passion And Showing Hard Work From Tech Guru Michael Dell

If you’re in need of a little motivation, check out these quotes from Dell’s CEO, founder and chairman.



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There’s much to learn from one of the computer industry’s longest tenured CEOs and founders, Michael Dell. As an integral part of the computer revolution in the 1980s, Dell launched Dell Computer Corporation from his dorm room at the University of Texas. And it didn’t take Dell long before he’d launched one of the most successful computer companies. Indeed, by 1992 Dell was the youngest CEO of a fortune 500 company.

Dell’s success had been long foreshadowed. When he was 15, Dell showed great interest in technology, purchasing an early version of an Apple computer, only so he could take it apart and see how it was built. And once he got to college, Dell noticed a gap in the market for computers: There were no companies that were selling directly to consumers. So, he decided to cut out the middleman and began building and selling computers directly to his classmates. Before long, he dropped out of school officially to pursue Dell.

Fast forward to today. Dell is not only a tech genius and businessman, but a bestselling author, investor and philanthropist, with a networth of $24.7 billion. He continues his role as the CEO and chairman of Dell Technologies, making him one of the longest tenured CEOs in the computer industry.

So if you’re in need of some motivation or inspiration, take it from Dell.

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