Freelance Tips Blog

8 Things to Consider When Entering Into a Business Partnership

Today we’re taking a slight detour from our usual solopreneur-focus to discuss the top 8 things to consider when entering into a business partnership. That’s because, after being a sole business owner for 8 years, I started working with a business partner exactly four weeks ago. Discover the top 8 things to consider when entering into a business partnership in this small business tips article! You'll learn the questions you NEED to ask if you're thinking about going into business with someone else...

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The project? A new small business podcast! The podcast is a collaborative effort between myself and Dan—it’s called Candid Conversations, and it’s a podcast sharing the adventures of small business owners and communications specialists.

NOTE: About 10 days after coming up with the idea to start a podcast together, we decided to grow the podcast from there and create a larger business together. I’ll definitely be sharing more about the business as we build it, but since we’re still in the early stages of getting a business plan together, I’ll just say for the time being that it’s going to combine our skills and it’s going to be awesome 🙂 I’m quite excited about it!

Starting to work with a business partner is a pretty big deal. I’ve worked with people on collaborative projects before, but doing a single joint-venture webinar or starting a hobby project is entirely different than starting a *real* ongoing business project (like the Candid Conversations podcast) with expenses and income and intensive tasks that need to be done consistently,.

Because I’ve been a solopreneur for nearly a decade, working with a business partner is a whole new experience for me—and it’s something I definitely want to talk about on the blog over the coming months so you can get an insight into business partnership, what to look for in a business partner, and things to consider when entering into a business partnership, as well!

Before we dive into today’s topic on the top 8 things to consider when working with a business partner, and what it’s been like working with a business partner after being a solopreneur for 8 years, I want to share WHY I haven’t worked with someone on a long-term project before.

There are a few reasons why I’ve never had a business partner before:

1) I love being in charge and having complete control over my own business (it’s not like I can’t be a team player—I just like calling the shots in MY business :))

2) The opportunity has never really come up to partner with someone else on a long-term project

3) None of my projects have really required a business partner

4) The idea of working with someone else on a project seemed SCARY

But all of that changed radically when Dan approached me with his idea of starting a business podcast. It was too perfect! We got started that very moment and it’s been a pretty amazing journey from there over the past few weeks.

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What has it been like to work with a business partner after working by myself for so many years?

It’s fun! I like being able to bounce ideas off of someone else, to divide tasks and responsibilities, and to have a project that someone else cares about as much as I do.

One of the most important early lessons I learned in business (years ago) was that no one will ever care about your business as much as you do. So working with a business partner on the Candid Conversations podcast has been really beautiful, to finally work on a project where someone else DOES care about it as much as I do!

But working with a business partner is definitely NOT going to be right for everyone. Finding the RIGHT business partner is crucial, if you want to work as an effective team together. You need to know what to look for in a business partner!

Want help with business planning? Grab your business goal planning workbook now >>

Here are a few things to consider when entering into a business partnership…

1) How well do you know each other?

If you met someone a couple weeks ago at a networking event and they seem cool and you want to partner with them on a business project, PLEASE GET TO KNOW THEM BETTER before you become business partners. You should know something about their strengths and weaknesses, as well as your own. Going into business with someone else isn’t something to take lightly.

2) Have you worked together before?

It’s one thing to know each other as acquaintances or to be friends. But just because you get along pretty well, doesn’t mean that you’ll WORK together pretty well. It’s important to know the other person’s work style.

In our case, Dan and I have been business friends for years, going for coffee to chat business and brainstorm ideas. He’s done a ton of work on my website and he’s taken my e-courses, and I’ve done contract work for a marketing agency he worked at for a while and helped him come up with plans for his business. We’ve also worked together on the Alcohol & Analytics series.

3) Do you trust the other person?

You NEED to be able to trust your business partner implicitly!

If you don’t trust that the other person will be able to hold up their end of the project and support you when you need it, or if you don’t trust that the other person is as invested in the project as you, then that’s going to be a major problem down the line.

You have to put your complete trust in someone when you go into business with them.

4) Are your skills complementary?

There’s no sense in working with a business partner who shares your exact skillsets. It’s important that each of you bring DIFFERENT skills to the table.

For example, Dan has an analytical background. He has tech experience and he’s worked in corporate environments and industries. On the other hand, I have a more creative and strategic mindset, and I also have experience working in public relations.

5) How much do you like them as a person? Thinking about starting a business with a friend? Read this article first! Find out the top 8 things to consider when entering into a business partnership: these are the must-ask questions when you start a business with a partner. Click on over to get the business partnership tips now!

If they’re the type of person you need a break from after a short period of time because they’re a little too intense for you, for example, then they probably aren’t going to make for a good business partner. You need someone who you genuinely ENJOY talking to and spending time with, because you’re going to be in communication with them on a pretty frequent basis.

Basically, if you can be friends before you become business partners, you’re probably off to a good start.

(Of course, just because you’re good friends doesn’t mean you’ll be good business partners! So don’t just choose a random business partner from among your friends.)

6) Are you both equally willing to make this business a priority?

You both need to pull your weight in a business partnership—can’t have one person taking on all the work, after all! You need to both agree that this business is something you want to succeed, and that you’re willing to put in the time, effort, and energy required to make it work.

That’s not to say that you’ll both be spending the same energy and time on the business. In fact, because you are each bringing separate skills to the table, it’s likely that one of you will be spending more time/energy at one stage of the project, and the other will be spending more time/energy on a different stage of the project.

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7) Do you know your boundaries and limits?

Because starting a business can basically take over everything else in your life, you’ll want to keep in mind that you might need to set boundaries. You can’t both be available every second of the day to respond to questions or work on the business. Being respectful of each other’s time is important.

8) Are you willing to help each other out?

Just because you aren’t free every moment to work on the business, doesn’t mean you can’t help each other out. For example, reviewing each other’s work, helping to do research, and identifying other ways to lighten the load when the other person starts getting burned out can make a world of difference.

You’re a team, after all—you need to take care of each other!

So there you have it: some tips for identifying the right business partner for your next project! Look seriously at the above 8 things to consider when entering into a business partnership so that your business starts off on a strong footing.

Can you see yourself working with a business partner, or do you prefer to do things entirely on your own? What has been your experience with project collaborations? Share in the comments below!

4 Comments

  1. Tammi

    I too have been a small business owner for 20 years. We’ve done the solo, general partnership, C-Corp, and now an S-Corp. I highly recommend a Partnership Agreement when entering into a partnership. It helps establish and maintain the GP rules and guidelines. I totally agree with all of your tips above. You must like the person you work with! It is like a business marriage. Best of luck with your new business – so exciting! Visiting from SITS Sharefest.

    1. Sagan Morrow

      Thanks for stopping by, Tammi! “It is like a business marriage” — YES.

      Such an important point about having a Partnership Agreement, too. Meeting with lawyers and getting everything in writing is definitely necessary when entering into a business partnership!

  2. Tilly

    I’ve entered into small business partnerships before, but sadly, being the more experienced party, both times the other has gleaned me of my information, ideas and eventually clients. If I was to ever do it again, I would ensure the talent/skill/experience was equal and have an iron clad contract.

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