Partnering Up. Why it’s not an absolutely terrible idea.
When you have an idea – a very precious idea – it’s easy to envision being the top dog of your biz and the face of your brand.
You imagine making all the decisions, answering to no one, bringing in all the money and calling all the shots – always. Isn’t that why you went into business for yourself?
But have you ever considered partnering up?
I know I hadn’t. It never even dawned on me to bring someone on as a full fledged partner for LearnSavvy when it was still an idea. I saw myself as the lone wolf like every other entrepreneur out there.
When I was writing my book, Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready! Set! Launch! I interviewed several women who had started a business with someone else.
Some of the women were close friends with their business partners while others were introduced to one another by mutual colleagues or investors. All of them spoke about the value of the collaboration and the speed at which they were able to reach their milestones.
That made my ears perk up. They spoke so highly of the relationship they had formed that I decided to open myself up to the idea.
In many ways it felt like I’d grown up. I realized that I didn’t have all the skills to build the business I dreamed of and that by bringing on someone with complementary skills I could build something larger and entirely more sustainable. I also realized that I wanted to share in the journey – even if that meant that someone had an opinion on the business and a share in the profits.
However, wouldn’t the profits be even more grand when two people are putting in the time, energy and intention?
My partnership has ebbed and flowed because of life circumstances and one day we hope to be back in it 100%. But the reason why it’s been successful even with all the changes, is that we have been completely honest with one another, have set systems in place and have been flexible when life needs have taken a front seat.
Just like marriage you have to be selective, start out slow and communicate openly all along the journey!
4 Tips to Finding and Working with a Partner
This goes without saying. You need to select someone who has the same level of integrity as you do. Sheer enthusiasm isn’t enough.
What skills, experience, and connections can they bring to the business?
Also it’s wise to chose someone who has complementary skills to your own. If you’re strong in marketing, perhaps find someone strong in running the day-to-day and financials. Having two partners with very similar strengths and temperaments could be problematic.
Be clear on your vision and goals
Share with them what your goals and vision for the business are – and do so before you move forward.
Do you want to build a part time business or do you want to build a million-dollar business? Do they have the same vision?
Are they willing and able to quit their full-time job in order to completely commit to the business you’re creating? Do you both want to serve your audience in similar ways? Ask the hard questions now. This will prevent surprises later on.
Get everything in writing
You may be best friends now but you’re going into business together and that dramatically changes the relationship.
Not only do you need to do all the legal pieces that are necessary for a partnership but go the extra mile and create your own partnership contract that spells out the division of duties and what to do when certain circumstances arise.
Let’s say a producer of the Today Show calls and only wants one of you to be interviewed. How is that determined?
Or, you get a speaking gig that pays handsomely. Does that money go to the business or directly into your pocket? Creating a partnership contract, reviewing it as questions arise and revising it periodically will save you hours of anger or hurt feelings down the road.
Refrain from micromanaging
Yes, it may be your idea and your baby but allow your partner to do what she does best.
If she excels in marketing and networking, which is my partner’s zone of genius, let her do her magic. Trust that she is doing what needs to be done. Discuss with one another how you like to work and how you will manage one another (and yourself) so that there are no surprises that could cause conflicts.
Partnering up with someone to launch a business can be a scary proposition. It can bring up your own issues around relationships, feelings of scarcity and self-doubts but it can also allow for true collaboration, increased exposure and profits and potentially a damn good time.
If you’re smart on who you partner with and treat the relationship professionally, it may be the best business decision you will ever make.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
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