Thinking Of Entering Into A Business Partnership? – Stop: And Read This First

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Business partnership
Don't enter a business partnership with your eyes closed.

It is often said that going into a business partnership is just as complex and involved as a marriage.  In my experience I would strongly agree with this. And it isn’t something to enter into blindly, or naively.

I’ve seen everything from incredibly successful partnerships through to ones that have been a complete nightmare.

Let’s look at some areas you might like to consider before you enter a partnership with another party.

A partnership could include investing, business or property investing partnerships.

Formal partnership vs collaboration

Does the arrangement need to be in a formal way of a partnership or company?  Or can you achieve the same result by a more informal collaborative arrangement?

Business partnerships are a lot like marriage.
Business partnerships are a lot like marriage.

I’m finding more often that people are working in collaborative environments instead of the more formal and often more complex arrangements.

Money values

Having similar values around money is important.

Just like in a marriage you often find that people have different values around money so why would it be any different in a business relationship?

A good example could be one party wanting to reinvest all the profits back into the business, and the other wanting to take them out.

Given one of the leading causes of relationship break ups is money, then this is really key to explore.

Personal values

Have you thought about your personal values and those of the person/s you want to enter into an arrangement with?

We often spend quite a lot of time working out the details of how a partnership would work but do we think about how the other party really ticks.

Consider things like trust, integrity, honesty, family values, work ethic, personal goals, etc.

Complementary skills

We often gravitate to people that we understand and feel comfortable with. This can be great in many ways, however it can be really valuable working with people who are very different to us as their skills can complement ours.

The challenge is to be clear about what your strengths and weaknesses are, and work in partnership with people whose skills complement and enhance those.

Acknowledge their differences rather than struggle with the fact that they may not approach and do things the same way as you.

Vision for the future

Do the people you want to go into a partnership with share the same vision as you for the future?

It’s worth the time to explore this fully.  It’s easy to be on the same page in relation to wanting to make money for example, but how much is that, in what timeframe? What work is required by who to meet those objectives? etc.

An example can be parents investing in property with their children.  The parent’s focus is often to create an income for their retirement, and the children often want to invest for the long term.

Dealing with problems

How does your perspective partner deal with problems and conflict? Some confront head on, and others avoid.

It is a given that there will always be problems with any relationship.  It’s how you deal with them that really matters.  You can learn a lot about someone when you look at how they deal with problems.

Financial rewards

Be very clear about who is doing what, and what each party is going to get paid and how.

You want to ensure expectations are discussed and all parties are compensated adequately for their contributions.  It could be that one party puts more time in, and the other puts in more money.

The agreement

Once you have thought through and discussed the above areas you want to have some sort of agreement drawn up that both parties agree to abide to and sign.

The agreement will really help you get the clarity on how the partnership will work.  It doesn’t need to be drawn up by a lawyer.  However you may get a better result as they will have the experience to make sure everything is covered off.

The agreement should include: ownership, contributions, expectations, remuneration, the process if something goes wrong, mediation, termination, pretty much anything you can think of.

Conclusion

Before entering into a partnership make sure that you consider:

  • Does the arrangement need to be in a formal way of a partnership or company?  Or can you achieve the same result by a more informal collaborative arrangement?
  • Do you have similar money values?
  • Are your personal values aligned?
  • Do you have a complimentary skillset, and an awareness of each others strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are you on the same page with your vision for the future?
  • How does your perspective partner handle problems and conflict?
  • Are you clear on who will do what, for what reward?
  • Do you have an agreement – (either formal or informal) – that covers ownership, contributions, expectations, remuneration, the process if something goes wrong, mediation, termination, pretty much anything you can think of?

To ensure the success of your partnership plan for the worst but expect the best!

Did you enjoy this article? You could win a 1:1 consultation with Lisa Dudson and two free copies of her latest book “The New Zealand Money Guide“. 

Lisa Dudson
Investor, author, entrepreneur, professional speaker - Lisa Dudson is recognised as one of New Zealand's leading business people and educators in the property and financial sector. She began investing at just 16 years of age, and owns a diversified portfolio of investments.

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