Business Partner Institute
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About BPI

Mission:   The Business Partner Institute (BPI) is an international, interdisciplinary professional membership organization dedicated to two goals:

  • Providing educational, research, and networking opportunities for business-partner advisors, educators and researchers and 
  • Increasing awareness in the business community about resources, developments and opportunities related to co-owning  businesses. 

BPI is focused specifically on issues related to the co-ownership of closely held businesses and not more broadly on establishing, managing or growing a business.  To maintain its focus on matters related to co-ownership, BPI screens member applications to ensure that they share this specific interest and are not general business or management advisors, educators or researchers. 

BPI as an organization does not try to serve the needs of business partners, though many of its members do consult or advise partners on issues related to co-ownership.  It does not endorse its members or their services, or provide referrals to partners seeking assistance.  However, the BPI website does list descriptions and contact information for its members who are focused on issues related to co-ownership.

BPI maintains a list of professionals willing to speak publicly on subjects related to co-ownership but it does not endorse them or vouch for their speaking ability.

Participants in BPI:   Who participates in BPI?  Researchers, educators, advisors, organizations focused on business partners, and business schools participate in BPI to learn more about business partnership, to network with others who share this interest, or share their knowledge and experience in this topic. Participants are from a variety of backgrounds including management, psychology, organizational behavior, finance, and law. 

Membership:  In order to assure the quality of participants' experience, BPI plans to establish membership criteria in the future. However In the initial stage of the development of this website and other activities, participation is free and open to all to encourage maximum involvement.  

Activities of the Institute  

  • Research:  BPI offers a means for researchers to share their research endeavors with others and find other researchers who may be interested in collaborative research ventures or sharing ideas. 
  • Education:  Professors and lecturers can network and share their syllabi and course materials, etc., with educators and others.
  • Professional Development:  The BPI website is a place to explore ideas for professional development, share information and resources, develop content collaboratively, and announce events.  
  • Publishing:  Members can develop ideas for co-authored articles and books, and edited books on topics related to co-ownership. 
  • Conferences and Workshops:  Members may decide to offer conferences and workshops under the auspices of the institute or through other channels.   

 Areas of Interest:  The following are just a few of the topics advisors, educators and researchers are interested in pursuing.  You are encourage to identify your interests, explore who shares your interests and discover who might be interested in thinking, working or writing with you on the subject.  Submit other areas of interest if you like.

  • Managing Partner Relationships.  The relationships among partners is a multifaceted issue related to partners styles and personal values, their history, level of trust and whether or not they have other types of relationships on top of their business relationship (e.g., family or friend).  
  • Ownership Issues.  There are numerous issues related to owning an interest in a closely held business, e.g., how to determine who owns how much of the company and how interests change when circumstances change. 
  • Valuation.  Determining the value of partners’ interests in a closely held company is a one of the challenges of ownership.  The challenge is largely due to the fact that shares of a closely held business are owned by a small number of stockholders, and often by members of a family. Because there is no established market for the shares, it is difficult to establish the value of the shares in an estate or gift tax situation.
  • Organizational Issues.  The structure of co-owners’ businesses can play a crucial role in their ability to run their company effectively and enjoy harmonious relationships.  The issues include topics such as positions within the company, titles, meetings and sharing information. 
  • Governance.  Many co-owners run large companies and never seriously consider governance matters.  It is often important to separate governance, management and shareholder decisions.
  • Compensation and Financial Matters.  Partners have considerable leeway in determining how they handle financial matters and this freedom can serve them well or it can lead to conflicts among them.
  • Vision and Strategic Planning.  When partners are on the same page regarding where they see their company heading, it can create a powerfully constructive dynamic.  However, partners with different visions can thwart each other and bring their shared company to a standstill. 
  • Family Members as Partners.  Having partners you are intimately connected to can be the best experience or the worse.  It is so complicated that many business advisors warn people never to contemplate mixing family and business. 
  • Family Members as Employees.  While it is often tempting to bring in family members with certain skills or needs, caution and careful planning are du rigueur.
  • Equity and Fairness among Partners.  A sense of a lack of fairness, or equity, among partners is often a reason for partners ending their business relationship but the question is how partners effectively address the matter of fairness.  
  • Collaboration among Partners.  Establishing and maintaining a strong sense of collaboration among a group of partners is key to their long-term success but is often elusive to achieve and difficult to maintain. 
  • Roles of Co-owners in Private Businesses.  Ownership most often gives people the power to determine their own roles within their companies so how do partners effective negotiate their respective roles and what do  they do when they experience “turf battles”?

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