Why it’s Worth Investing in Your Business Partnership Before You Start

Photo by Sam Beebe

Business partnerships are fantastic things. A good partnership offers all the same benefits of being self-employed but with a built in colleague to weather it all with. Like all relationships, though, business partnerships require careful tending to ensure they remain positive.

I am a big believer in the value of taking time to establish a positive grounding before you start. If you’re going into business in partnership with another person, whether they’re a spouse, friend, family member or former colleague, part of that grounding will include ensuring that the partnership is going to be sustainable over time.

Though business partnerships often work extremely well… many don’t. This is shown in the rate of divorce in couples who work together as it’s much higher than the norm. It’s far from unusual for partnerships to hit a metaphorical wall two or three years into their business because the two parties just aren’t compatible to be in business together long term.

There are ways to avoid this very common issue. I believe the most effective one is to invest the time before you start to ensure your partnership is up to the challenge. The best case scenario would be that this extra groundwork makes your partnership strong enough to succeed. The worst case is that it makes you realise the partnership isn’t going to work in business: which will save you time, money and heartache in the future.

At the beginning of a business partnership it’s really important to be able to honestly answer the following questions together:

  • What are your individual strengths?
  • Do your strengths compliment each other?
  • What are your personal values… and do they sit well with each other?
  • Do you have a similar working style?
  • Will you be able to happily work to the same routine, or two complimentary routines?
  • What are your long term goals?
  • What do you see as the perfect life/work balance?
  • How do you approach finances?
  • How ambitious are you?
The point of this conversation isn’t necessarily to both come out with the same answers. Rather, it’s designed to flag up any potential frustrations before they become an issue. If these initial honest answers help you to discover that you have very different working styles, you’ll be able to make provision now, right at the beginning of your business, to find a way to accommodate them both.

These conversations can often be difficult to have, especially if you’re not really sure where to start. You may wish to address this by bringing in a third party to facilitate discussion. Working with a professional mediator could be an excellent way to dig down into your partnership, unearth any as-yet-undiscovered problems and find a solution before they begin to weaken your business.

A mediator would also be a great way forward if your initial discussions have brought up concerns and you and your business partner are unsure about how to proceed.

If you think a mediator might be beneficial to your business partnership, I’d be very happy to chat to you about how I could fill that role. Why not give me a call or send me an email?  

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