Is There Any Such Thing as a Truly Silent Partner?


To scale an incorporated career to become a genuine enterprise, business owners often seek growth funding from their relatives and friends.  That makes sense because private investors often ask for evidence that the business owner has already put up his/her own money and asked his/her relatives and friends to step up.  Plus the interest rate is usually lower with relatives and friends than bank financing. And hopefully the relatives and friends won’t demand quite as much control or return on their investment as venture capitalists do.

But then again, it may not be a favor that some relatives and friends don’t immediately make demands.  Their silence can be misleading. Try not paying them back or providing positive ROI (in about the same timeframe as the banks or VCs, by the way) and previously silent partners tend to become very vocal.  I know a few situations where the majority owners have given themselves big raises or bonuses and haven’t provided any profit sharing for minority owners in YEARS.  Not surprisingly, those business owners didn’t want to show us their partnership agreements when we were invited in to help with strategic growth planning.

For a long while, I agreed with many business owners when they would rail against venture capitalists. “I don’t want money from those vultures! They’ll want to tell me what to do and it’s MY business!”   My 40 years of helping midsized businesses keep growing has shifted that view because one of the benefits of outside financing is the participation of expert(s) on a company’s board of directors who actually hold the business owner(s) accountable for a reasonable return on investment. In many ways, if a business owner only wants to do what he wants to do and can’t hear advice from informed people, that business owner hasn’t grown past the mindset of an incorporated career and may not deserve growth financing (from a bank, a venture capitalist, a relative or a friend).


Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST™. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions.  Her midsized BtoB clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. She owns and operates a suite of companies that help privately held midsized companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® through opportunity & resource analysis, 4 approaches to strategic planning, executive advisory services, growth financing, and targeted search.  2012 is Ambler’s 8th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer syndicated on line talk show that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. An archive of over 300 interviews is available at She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at

About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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Aldonna and her team showed us the way to success on many levels.

Susan W. Fell
Formerly of Wyckoff Publishing

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