Early on in my entrepreneurial career I wanted nothing to do with partners. I think it was the negative connotation around the idea of having a partner that caused me to think this way. I remember hearing all the horror stories of people being in business with someone and the thing blew up in their face. Not wanting things to blow up in my face, I would try to go about these ventures or opportunities on my own.
I soon learned how difficult it was to go about something alone and gave up on this whole idea. Today, I will not even get involved in a project or opportunity without having a partner or a team around me. There is just so much value in brining together a team of people who can pool their talents, resources, and share the responsibility.
I have found huge advantages of entering into new opportunities with a partner. The best part about it is the ability to make the most of shared resources and complement each others talents.
Early on in my career I thought I was superman and could take on about anything – I was wrong on this one. It was through trial and error and some scuffs on my knees, that I learned where I fit into an opportunity and where I needed others to fill in my gaps.
Creating a partnership where you can fill in each others gaps and create a team that can go out on the field to win is obviously one of the smartest things you could ever do. However, before you jump into bed with someone there are a few things you should be thinking about.
1. Take a strengths assessment. This is in my opinion the best investment you can make in the beginning. By taking the assessment it allows you right from the start to have an idea where everyone fits in and where they will be best used.
2. Get to know one another and ask tough questions: Before you jump into this thing, take the time to ask one another tough questions about business, leadership, finances, family, etc. It is important to get to know people on a deeper level. Sometimes you might even learn something in the beginning that causes you to think differently about entering into this engagement.
3. Get an agreement in place. Don’t waste any time. Hire a great attorney and get this in place.
4. Who is doing what? This is where things get sticky and everyone starts getting a little heated. You and your partners need to sit down and layout roles, responsibilities, workloads, time, and results. Something else you need to do is decide how you will resolve disagreements, and who will act as a middleman.
5. You are in this thing to win not drink corona’s on the beach and watch you kids play in the sand. If you are entering into a new opportunity, you need to build a team not based on friendships, but based on business and winning.
6. What is the long-term vision? You can have a business for whatever amount of time you want. However, just make sure you you’ve thought through the vision for the future of the business: 2-5 years, 10 years, and so on. Something else you might want to do is build in an exit strategy for all the partners. You never know what can happen.
7. People love moving on and doing different things. This is just reality right? This is why you should take the time to develop an agreement that outlines what would happen if someone left the company. It should answers questions like how will that person be compensated, how will things be divided, etc.
8. Who is the leader? Every company needs a leader. You can’t have everyone be the leader. Take the time to pick one person who will be in charge of calling the final shots. Also, make sure that everyone is on board with this decision or you will have troubles.
I am all about putting together a team where you can fill in each others gaps. Just make sure you do things right. Don’t rush into things, do the work, ask tough questions, and do it all up front.
What about you? Are you fan of partnerships? What value do you see in them?