When the chips are down, how do you reverse a bad situation?

This is a question Jason Donaldson of The Cell was forced to confront when his marriage and business partnership ended so close in succession.

Like all of us, he had to draw on his best psychological resources to get leverage on himself and pull through.

Here’s Jason’s take on how he did it.


I am very much about having a thought or idea and then failing forward. I just do shit. I don’t always think things through or analyze the crap out of the what if’s. I just take action.

So, despite some initial paralysis, with invaluable encouragement from my girlfriend (she has been my rock!), I put my fears aside and focused on the opportunity in front of me. That’s when things turned around.

When my business partner told me he wanted to sell his share of the business, I realized that part of me was excited about the prospect of being full-time doing what I love and taking the place to where I wanted it to be. In a way, it was like all my dreams were finally coming to fruition. My OWN CrossFit box!

It was all up to me now. I’m good with that. I like the pressure of the buck stopping with me
and I think I excel and perform at my best in those situations. When there is someone else to turn to, I tend to slack off and shirk responsibility if I’m not on top of my thoughts and actions.

This was actually a huge relief, that I now had real freedom to do whatever I wanted. Previously, there was always someone else I had to take into consideration or to run things past.

With my head on straight, I had to tackle my biggest obstacle: finding the funding to buy my partner out.

I thought my partner’s price was actually way too high given that he’d chosen income over pumping money back into the business and building the capital, but I hadn’t been prepared to mess around with weeks (or months!) of negotiation so I accepted it. I figured that it may cost me more initially, but the longer negotiations went on, the more it would cost me in the long run. I wanted it done so my team and I could move on. I could make up the money by getting us back on track.

So, I went to our bank, but they couldn’t help given that I just taken out a mortgage for mine and my girlfriends home in April and we had refinanced the business only in December 2011 to expand. I tried a few other financial institutions as well, but none would assist.

That’s when I went to my long-time fallback, my folks!

I told them what I needed and why and they jumped in straight away to lend me the money. They know how passionate I am about what I do and that I’ve been pretty successful thus far doing it. So they lent me the cash for the buyout and took a massive worry off of my shoulders. As they were my last resort, it really came down to the wire for the business settlement, but we got there.

Today, I am the sole owner and director of The Cell. I have taken 5 months leave without pay from the Police to focus on building things at the box. Another #18monthMurph is proudly underway.

Once the settlement was finally complete, we bounced straight back to $35k gross revenue in the very next month!

How is this possible?

It took communication, collaboration and a lot of focus.

First, I outlined what my goals were for the future of the business, how I want to get there and the sort of person I wanted on the bus with me for the journey.

Then I got my team focused on the big picture and we worked together toward the end goal.

Although the ride has in no-way been smooth, the bus is now traveling in the right direction.

And the proof isn’t only found in our increasing monthly gross & ACV. Here’s an email I received a couple of weeks ago from a long-time (3+ years) member.

“Hey just want to say a couple of things and acknowledge when we first learnt of the news about **** there was an amount of nervousness amongst the punters. Only natural I guess, no one likes change. And I personally know the pain and hard work that comes from such a partnership “dissolution.”

It appears to me (and others) that The Cell has not missed a beat, and in fact things seem to be more fluid and have changed for the better. The vibe and energy right now seems through the roof. This can only be put down to you and your hard work, after all, it’s all yours now.

So just a quick acknowledgement of what I see and to say I like it!”

Any of this resonate with you?

Then, here’s MY ADVICE:

If you’re already in a partnership… you’re fucked.

Hahahaha! No, not really. 🙂 Your partnership may be working just fine.

But please make sure this is the right situation for you because the stakes are high.

My question to you is, “Is your partnership REALLY working?”


How would you answer Jason’s question?

Is a business partnership putting a strain on your box and your life? Are you considering taking on a partner at your box, but not sure if it’s the right move?

Share your partnership concerns, questions and frustrations in the comments below.

Then check back on Friday for Parasitic Partnerships Part 3, when Jason outlines a 4 part test to determine whether or not a partnership is right for your box.

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