Most partnerships occur quite naturally when two or more people who share something (idea, vision, ambition, dream, aspiration, passion) realise they are better together than they would be ‘going it alone’. Whether you are a lone wolf or a team player, this may not be the only thing that determines whether a business partnership is right for you.
As much as it may seem like tremendous fun to have a ‘partner in crime’, the truth is that most successful business partnerships stem from a NEED for a business partner. When there is a need there is usually an accompanying motivation to ‘make it work’. Partnerships that go sour usually do so because one or more of the partners feel, for whatever reason, that someone isn’t bringing enough (or anything at all!) to the partnership party. This can be avoided when you properly evaluate the needs of your business.
Here are some of the pros and cons of business partnerships:
- Shared risk, responsibility and workload.
- Mutual support and motivation – you’re rarely ‘down’ at the same time.
- A greater pool of skills and experiences.
- Different ideas, perspectives and solutions to problems.
- Someone else to ‘step in’ on your behalf if required.
- Shared profits!
- Spending a lot of time with the same person can be irritating.
- People can change over time… and not for the better.
- Conflicting ideas, perspectives and solutions to problems.
- Someone else that may try to ‘step in’ on your behalf… even when you don’t want/need them to.
You may not need a business partner just because you lack a particular skill or skills… even if it is a crucial skill. Do you need a partner that is ‘good with computers’ because you are not? Can you learn to be ‘good with computers’ yourself? Can you find someone to do all your computerish stuff at a reasonable price? If you’re great at designing things but terrible at making them, do you need a partner that can make things, or can you learn to make them yourself? Do you even want to learn? Do profit margins allow you to pay someone else to create your designs?
One or more of the pros of business partnerships can also represent a need or needs for one. If you need someone to share the workload, for whatever reason, then a partnership may be right for you. If you need someone else’s investment then a partnership may be necessary for you. However, if you just feel like you might want companionship on the entrepreneurial journey – get a goldfish! That’s not what business partners are good for. Whilst it’s fairly essential to be able to get on with a business partner, he or she does not need to be your best friend… critical friend maybe, best friend not so much. Of course it’s great when business partners can also be friends, but ‘being your friend’ isn’t a bone fide job description nor is it a professional role that is likely to keep someone happy for very long.
Because I didn’t want to be limited to doing one ‘job’, having business partners was essential for me. There are three of us in our partnership which allows me (and them) to go off and explore other things whilst still driving the business forward. Sure, I only get a third of the profits, but I also only get a third of the hassles! If I’m ill or have other commitments, there is always someone that can step into the breach. Luckily, whilst we all get on very well, it doesn’t always come easily! In a partnership, you have to accept that you won’t always get your own way, you do have to take others’ opinions on board and, sometimes, you have to sacrifice your own needs, wants and opinions to make it work.
To figure out if a business partnership is right for you, start by evaluating if you will, overall, gain more than you will lose. For me it was a no-brainer because the partnership allows me to have my cake… and eat it.
My 5 Top Tips for a Successful Business Partnership:
- Have a partnership contract from the very beginning!
- ALWAYS stick together… even when you hate each other.
- Leave your ego at home.
- The pronouns ‘I’ and ‘me’ should be used sparingly.
- If there are more than 2 of you in the partnership, NEVER form cliques… EVER.
To find out more about the nitty-gritty of setting up a business partnership in the UK, including the different types of partnerships, follow this link https://www.gov.uk/set-up-business-partnership/setting-up