The adage that two brains are better than one may explain why a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners, including me, create partnerships. However, it’s not just those brains that should work well together. Partners’ personalities and level of understanding need to get along too.
As an entrepreneur who’s launched many companies/projects, I’ve made a number of partnerships. Along the way, I’ve learned some lessons when creating those partnerships and some of those lessons I had to learn the hard way.
Among the most helpful tips that I’ve discovered is making sure that you get along with your business partner, not just by friendship. It’s important to find someone who complements your skills someone who will stand with you in the rain, and underestimate the importance of not mixing business with pleasure.
When you mix business with pleasure it clouds your ability to make key decisions, and kill communication. Communication is another big part of a business relationship. I couldn’t speak to my former business partner because I also had to think of the friendship this made it hard to ensure we stay on the same page and each knew what the other one was working on. I believe that ongoing dialogue is so important because it helps to reduce the risk of assumptions and encourages you to stay focused on your shared vision. Of course, there is likely going to be some miscommunication and disagreement.
That’s ok. But I’ve found that when you treat each other as friends instead of business partners communicating openly with your partner becomes a problem. Maximizing misunderstandings and making working together a nightmare. I’ve learned many things about creating and maintaining partnerships during the past two years. Although there are dozens of tips, here are a few key lessons:
- Partnership agreements: As I’ve mentioned that mixing business with pleasure kills communication, I’ve been burned by not having the right agreements in place. It’s important for business partners to have clear partnership agreements this will also help each partner know their role and how to play it without causing conflict.
- Clear expectations: I’ve also learned the hard way that people, including business partners, can’t read my mind. I believe business partners should consistently set their expectations with each other let each other know what they expect from one another.
- Think about your clients: When evaluating a potential business partnership, I look at my weaknesses and what I need help with. I also think about my clients and what type of partnership would benefit them.
- Mutually beneficial: It might sound obvious, but still should be noted. Partnerships should be mutually beneficial. In what I have experienced, both sides need to gain something from the relationship for it to be worthwhile, if one feels like they just giving and giving the is no take it kills their commitment spirit make sure you are as important as your partner is to you.
- It’s ok to walk away: Like any relationship, a business partnership holds a great deal of promise. However, sometimes it doesn’t work out. That’s alright. Don’t stay in a business partnership if you believe it’s no longer viable. I’ve learned that it’s better to end the partnership and regroup than to force something that’s not working.
Finally, partnerships aren’t for everyone: I try to take a step back to consider if I really need a business partner for a venture before I approach anyone. Sometimes it makes sense at the moment and Sometimes it turns out to be a huge mistake but that’s a call each entrepreneur has to make for him or herself.