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Two Be or Not Two Be...What to Consider in a Partnership

Have you ever had to brace yourself for an event or an adventure and thought it would be a lot more comfortable and a lot less scary to have someone there with you? Most people relate and agree it is better to have a companion. Businesspeople looking to start their own business think similarly as well.

Questions arise. What attributes should my partner possess? Can it be a good friend or someone I do not know in my social life? How much contribution should each of us put towards the business?

If you are considering a partnership, then read over the following:

Who is the captain and who is the first mate?
The word ‘partnership’ insinuates an equality, yet there most always will be someone who is more in charge. This may be the person with more experience, the one with more money invested in the venture, the partner with a more domineering personality, etc.

Formulate a partnership agreement addressing the money and responsibility dynamic that will exist between the two of you. Scenarios such as selling the business, breaking apart, etc. needs to be discussed and finalized by a contract.

If one person is not designated to take the helm, a power struggle will rise and the business may sink before getting out of the dock.

What kind of worker are you working with?
Becoming the owner of a business takes a lot of ethic, determination, and long hours worked. Be prepared yourself for the commitment, but more importantly make sure you align yourself with a partner that shares your work ethic. Often, people are attracted to working with their friends, but are disappointed to find their chums are not as fun to work with as they are to hang around with.

What is the communication like between the two of you?
There is no doubt about it; being partners means communicating effectively. The business cannot afford ‘awkward moments.’ Frankness and sincerity are two attributes that are well needed in the partnership dynamic. Entrepreneurs are usually headstrong to begin with, so it may take some time for the two of you to get used to sharing the lead.

What is their reputation?
Just like your employees, do research on your partner. Where did they work before? How did they perform? Change is inevitable, but as far as personalities go, most attributes remain static. Someone with a proven record of excellence will likely contribute more of the same in the future. You may want to reconsider moving forward with a potential partner with an unimpressive work history.

Any sparks?
A partnership is much like other relationships such as those of best friends or spouses. Some people, due to personality, age, interests, etc. have great chemistry between them. A good connection is something that can be built, but there is usually something there from the very beginning. If you do not work well with someone, it is most likely you are not a good match for becoming partners.

In the family
Often, an owner’s decisions and moods stem from their family life. Partners, before starting the relationship, do not think of combining forces as aligning themselves with their partner’s family as well. Know about a potential partner’s family life before you make a commitment to them. If they have a family that is highly involved in making business decisions and there is not a clear distinction between work and home, then it can become very difficult to work with that person.

Is there a shared vision?
What is your ultimate goal? Is it similar to your potential partner’s vision of the future? Many scenarios and side roads may display themselves throughout the journey, but it is important for the both of you to share a common, ultimate goal. If it is to build the business to a certain level and then sell, then agree upon it. If you want to build an empire that will outlast you both, then let it be known.

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