Starting a business: Should you partner up or not?

Estimated read time: 5 minutes



By Jefrey Dun, Editor at 305Startups

Running a small business successfully often comes down to making good decisions. One of the hardest decisions to make is choosing to go all-in and actually launching your business. There are a lot of things to consider – will your idea be something others value as much as you do, how much can you charge for a product or service, how big of a market is there for the product/service, what is my market, where will the money come from to launch the business, when to quit the stability of an 8-5 to work for yourself full-time, what will you do if it isn’t successful, what will you do if it IS successful…

If this list overwhelms you, being an entrepreneur probably isn’t for you, and any business advice for new businesses won’t help you with that. These are just some of the questions that will rumble around in your head before starting your own business. Just wait until the big strategic choices need to be made or when your business ethics are challenged right down to the values you founded the company on.

Why entrepreneurs need to tell good stories

One decision many small business owners contemplate is if they should start their company by themselves or if it would be wiser to have another co-founder. There are major pros and cons on both sides of this decision-making ledger.

Pros

C.S. Lewis said that two heads are better than one.  I’m sure you’ve heard the cliché but there is a reason it is well known. The essence of this phrase is that two people are less apt to come up with the same bad ideas or follow the same bad directions. Think about a road trip with a friend or your spouse. Yes, THAT road trip. One of you is pretty certain that you’re headed in the wrong direction but isn’t sure, so nothing is said until you’re way off course. The passenger finally speaks up and the driver comes to grips with being lost. Directions are sought out, the course is corrected and all is right with the world again. This will happen in business as well. Following the wrong path too far may cost you a lot of money.

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Remember that big list of choices you’ve got to make? What if you had someone working with you that has been there and done that? How much better will you feel about your choices? Having an experienced business partner can make difficult situations much easier to face. If you can add the right person to your team that has already made the trip, they already know the directions and can help guide you along the way.

Unless you’re the wise sage that has already ran a business, it is certain that there are important skills you don’t possess. Many entrepreneurs won’t be able to find a partner that has already had great success and wants to join your team. Even if that is the case, adding someone that compliments your skill set can be a big win. There are countless small business owners that are damn good at their craft but don’t know the first thing about running a business. A visionary leader paired up with a skilled operations partner can make for a dynamic team that can grow for years to come.

Everyone knows that you’re also more likely to succeed if you have someone to hold you accountable. This fact doesn’t change in the world of business. Collaborating and challenging one another is an advantage that a partnership has that a sole proprietor will never get. In the world of business, a small competitive advantage can make all the difference and your decision to add the right partner can be just that edge.

Cons

The elephant in the room is that having a partner means you’re giving up equity in your business. There is no other way to cut it. If you’ve got the next great idea that is going to change the world and be on every street corner, having a partner now means you get to keep less of the financial windfall.

Another major challenge for some partnerships is how they resolve conflict among themselves. How will you handle making big choices where the two of you have opposing thoughts? If your business is a true partnership, 50/50 equity, that can cause real problems. No major resolution can be made until both partners are onboard. This can be a good thing when at a strategic crossroads but it can also cripple your business. Indecisiveness can kill opportunities.

Uncertainty is a real problem for a young, growing business. There are not many things more powerful than a clear, compelling mission. Focus makes the entire team more successful. They know where they’re going, why they’re going that direction and what is expected of them in how to get the job done. That is how to make things happen! Dithering and muddied messages from the founders does the exact opposite. Effective communication between business partners is vital to eradicate that lack of clarity.

Making a decision

This decision may very well determine the path and success of your venture. There is always the opportunity to add partners in the future, but there is a huge difference between adding a founding member of a business and owning a shareholder to an established business. Unfortunately, this article cannot make this critical decision for you. It is time to weigh up the pros and cons list as it pertains to your business…and then get to work making your next great decision on the path to fame and fortune!


This article ran as part of a paid partnership. 

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