Mo’ Partners Mo’ (Potential) Problems
How to guarantee that your two heads don’t bite each other on your shared business butt
Two heads are better than one, right?
Eh… hold on for a second…
Bringing in a partner for your business venture (or joining a company upon request) isn’t something to be taken lightly. Before you jump headfirst into what seems like a great opportunity, there are some important elements for a healthy partnership you should go over together.
Check if you’re on the same page
Actually, forget the same page, are you even reading the same book? What are the salary expectations? Your values as an owner?
Is the bottom line or giving back to the community your top priority?
Getting into a business relationship together without checking this kind of essential information is like moving in with someone in hopes of having a kid only to discover they don’t want a family.
There can be disagreements but if those values are not established, understood, or compatible from the outset, you’re building a business out of sand.
Contract or it didn’t happen
If you don’t follow Jane Austen Twitter, you may have missed the recent messy breakup between the partners who ran a popular fan account.
After 7 years, it was far more than just a Twitter account. The trademarked name was a business selling products, organizing conventions, and in talks over a potential book deal.
So, when one of the partners publicly announced she was being asked to leave, the other put out a statement declaring that there had never been a contract and as founder, she had the right to do as she wished with the business since the relationship had grown strained.
The other partner had to concede that the lack of a proper contract was true. And while she gained much sympathy and support, the question of legal rights was murky.
All of this could have been avoided with a simple piece of paper. Or a PDF, because we do live in the future.
It is dumb to assume after reading countless stories of the same thing happening that the, “they said we were equal” defense will mean anything.
Get a lawyer to write an ironclad contract. When emotions run high, that page will be your anchor outlining what can and can’t be done by either party. Especially when creating an exit plan.
Then no one can leave a scorched business behind them if things turn sour.
A balancing act
There is no point in having two heads if each head is identical in every single way. The best kind of partner is someone whose strengths balance out your weaknesses.
Let’s say you’re super creative but can’t for the life of you figure out how to interview someone. You shouldn’t find a partner who is as head-in-the-clouds as you. Instead, look for that individual who is down to earth and will help tether you there, keeping you and your goals grounded in reality.
Know thy partner
While there is a certain fantasy about meeting a sultry stranger in a bar and having a good time, if you try this with a business venture don’t expect any risque diary entries.
Business partnerships have to be built on trust, and you can’t trust someone you don’t know.
That doesn’t mean you should only look to close friends as possible partners, but it is up to you to do the research on anyone in whom you are about to put a whole lot of your faith.
They will have access to your private information and money, and shoulder half your future. Make sure they are worthy of that responsibility.
If you think you are being impolite, don’t. Any business partner worth having should be doing the same with you.
Pay attention to more than their ideas
One thing you should consider when looking to take a partner is if they mesh with you on a personal level. We’ve all had coworkers we hate. The ones who are negative during meetings or eat their lunch obnoxiously loud. Yet at the end of the working day we can successfully avoid them.
Not so with a partner. Because you are building something together you will spend more time in close communication, solving problems and coming up with ideas. This means all the tiny annoying things that bug you will be amplified. The messier workstyle will drive you crazy, or their inability to use capital letters in emails.
It doesn’t matter if they are the smartest person in the room. Getting into a partnership with an individual who drives you crazy or has a completely different style of managing things is a recipe for disaster.
Finding a person you trust to walk by your side while you build something is a smart move, but only if you take all the precautions necessary to make sure it IS a smart move.
At the end of the day, they are the ones who will have your back. So be cautious and choose someone who you know will stick it out when the going gets tough, and catch you if you fall.