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My Biggest Mistake: Picked the wrong business partner

May 9, 2011 |  6:01 am

Consultants, self-help gurus and moms agree: Mistakes are how we learn. Small-business owners tell us their biggest error. Here is this week's:

Rocket Fizz Business owner: Robert Powells

Company: Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shops

What I did: Learned the hard way how to find a good business partner.

Background: In 2007, Powells founded Rocket Fizz, which now has 20 locations and is franchising, with business partner Ryan Morgan. They work well together and share an 80-hour-per-week work ethic. But 26 years ago, when Powells was a 19-year-old starting his first company -– a manufacturing business -- he didn't know how to pick the right partner.

The Mistake: I was very young, and I just picked a friend to be a business partner. There were a lot of problems.

What I learned: It toughened me up, hardened me. Now I've got the most trustworthy business partner anyone could find. I learned the hard way that you have to have a partner with a very strong and ethical work ethic.

Have you made a mistake from which other small-business owners can learn? Please tell us about it at

-- Sharon Bernstein


Start-up lessons learned the hard way

Photo: Robert Powells, right, says he and Ryan Morgan, left, are good partners at Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shops.