Ready to be your own boss, but also thinking about having a partner to help you out? There can be a lot of advantages to having someone else share the responsibility. Forming a partnership can help meet certain needs and smooth the path through starting up and running your business.
Of course, there are drawbacks that can come along with a partner, too. We’ll look at those as well to help you make an informed decision and choose the right path for yourself.
So here are some of the principal reasons you might want to work with a partner along with a few potential complications. And we’ll wrap it up with some good reasons not to bring someone alongside.
One of the oldest and most straightforward reasons to involve someone else in the ownership of your business is out of friendship. It may be someone you’ve been best buddies with since kindergarten or a co-worker that you met on the job and you seemed to “click.” In any case, working with a friend can offer a lot of positives.
For one, you already know each other. You’re aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And you enjoy passing time together. If you become partners, you’ll have even more time together. You can help talk each other down when things get stressful and encourage each other when it seems like everything is caving in.
Friendship can be a glue that helps hold a company together. The kind of bond that already exists often makes a great backbone for the new joint venture.
Of course, it’s important to remember that running a business can be a huge source of stress. While at times friendship can help relieve that stress, there are times when it will put your relationship to the test, too.
There can be complications if one friend wants to sell or move on, or even in decisions about daily business operations. You’re likely going to be spending a lot more time together than you used to, which can lead to friction. And you won’t be able to relax together the same way.
It’s important to talk everything through clearly before setting up shop with a buddy and try to make plans for any contingency. Rely on contracts to help keep both business and friendship intact. Goodwill can be worn away too quickly.
Complementary Skills and Expanded Knowledge
There are areas of business that you’re going to be great at; after all, that’s why you think you can build a successful enterprise. At the same time, there are most likely areas where you won’t be so skilled.
In our own field at Patterned Concrete, we started from the ground up and learned the trade. The business skills were something that came later. That might be the kind of gap a partner can help fill. Or you could need someone who knows marketing or how to handle customer relations while you yourself concentrate on the labor side. Of course, any of these could be in reverse, too.
Having a partner can bring new ideas to the table, as well. They may be able to contribute thoughts that hadn’t crossed your mind. They may also be more comfortable doing so than an employee would be since they don’t have to worry about being fired.
As with any situation, though, you have to consider this carefully. You could – and should – be looking for employees that can offer similar qualities. So having knowledge and skills isn’t enough to ask someone to be a partner. It still needs to be a good fit for your goals and needs.
Yes, another reason to bring a partner on board is the money they can bring to the venture. And more money never hurts!
Having some money of your own is almost a necessity to start a business. But there are times it’s helpful to have a partner who is there partly or wholly for the economic investment they’re willing to make. Obviously, to do so they have to believe in you and be willing to back what you’re trying to do.
That extra money can make it easier to get started on firm footing. Or you could elect to bring a partner onboard when you’re already somewhat established but need an infusion of capital to expand and move to the next level.
This type of partner can be active or silent in the running of the business. Before looking for a partner, it’s important for you to think about what you want their role to be. You can make adjusts as you go along, but an initial expectation can help channel your efforts in the right direction.
Not everything is sunshine and roses when you add a partner, of course. Working alone can be tough, but dealing with another person presents whole new challenges. We’ve mentioned a couple already but let’s look at a few more.
First, there’s the issue of whether you’re going to make enough money to support you and your partner. It’s important to have a realistic plan and earnings forecast to know how much will be left behind for you as owners. Remember, it no longer goes to you alone. It has to be split according to your agreement.
Another issue is your motivation for seeking a partner. We’ve talked about a few positive ones above – working closely with a trusted friend or seeking a partner who can provide expertise or money that you don’t have. But a poor motivation that many business owners have is fear.
Starting your own business as a contractor can be intimidating, and that’s natural. It’s even wise to have a bit of nervousness about it. But choosing a partner out of that fear will almost always make for a bad choice. A partner isn’t going to be a failsafe to make sure things don’t go wrong, so it’s not helpful to simply try to give yourself some security.
Finally, having a partner can be stressful. We’ve mentioned that when talking about partnering with friends. But it’s never worth having a partner who doesn’t share your work ethic and your vision for the company. No matter what they might bring to the table, it’s bound to end in disaster when you don’t agree on the basics. There will still be stressful moments even when they share your values. But when they don’t, it’s a recipe for disaster.
In some cases, working with a partner in your contracting business can bring huge benefits. It can allow you to see new perspectives, grow more quickly, and think in ways you never would have come up with alone. However, it’s not something to rush into without thought. Take your time to evaluate your needs, your goals, and the type of partner you might want. After that, make the decision of whether to look for a partner and set out to find one who will truly fit in!