Dear Danielle: Should I Take on a Partner in My Business?

Dear Danielle:

I’m thinking about going into partnership with a colleague. What do you think? -AV

You don’t mention why you are thinking about this. That’s what I want to know. Why?

What purpose does taking on a business partner serve? What are you expecting?

Are you ready to give up full control and split the ownership and profits in half with someone else? Do you even make enough money that you can afford to split your earnings down the middle right now?

What do you think you are going to get by having a partner that you can’t do on your own? What happens if/when they don’t pull their own weight, have the same passion and work ethic, or otherwise don’t live up to your expectations?

I have yet to see a partnership in any business that really works.

It’s like a marriage, and too often people fail to ask certain questions before entering into it and find themselves with clashing goals and values, and sometimes incompatible workstyles and temperaments.

Sad to say, but most of the partnerships I’ve seen have ended disastrously.

I’m not saying it can’t be done, but I think a truly happy, successful partnership is a very rare thing which requires a great deal of due diligence, planning and foresight upfront, and proper care and feeding afterward.

Plus, you understand that a partnership is a legal business entity, right? If your relationship goes south, your partner has a legal say and stake in how the business, monies and clients are divvied up.

(Note: Simply telling people that this person is your business partner makes it official; there doesn’t even need to be paperwork. And trust me, you will always feel a teeny bit more entitled to ownership of the business and how it’s run when it’s you who started it. But that makes no difference in the eyes of the law. You can’t fire a business partner when you decide it wasn’t the bed of roses you expected.)

There are ways to work with colleagues that don’t require you taking them on as a business partner and offer far more possibilities and opportunities of mutual benefit and allow each of you to maintain control and ownership of your own separate businesses.

You don’t need a partner to get help and advise in your business. If you are growing and need your own administrative support, simply hire a colleague as your own Administrative Consultant.

3 Responses

  1. Gabby says:

    I’m with you there. Before I concentrated on being a VA, I had another business long time ago. It started out well with a business partner, ended up sadly as a disaster.

    When your partner does not have the same passion for the business as you do, or if they’re unwilling to meet you halfway on decisions that needs to be resolved quickly (and amiably), your partnership is a recipe for disaster.

  2. I’m totally with you this one, Danielle. And I agree with Gabby as well. It seems that partnerships rarely work out. Instead I would recommend building your individual businesses and being each other’s back up.

    Each individual has their own strengths. Build on those, but build your businesses separately.

  3. Rebeccajane says:

    I totally agree with you all, especially when it comes to arranging work for the both of you and if one of you pulls out it puts everything out the window! I find I work best alone then I do not have to worry about whether the other person is pulling their weight or whether there working is up to standard!

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