Like vows taken before marriage, business partners should consider the ups and downs they will experience while working together, and commit themselves to overcoming those challenges for the good of the business before opening their doors.
We have found that a few simple promises can help fortify a healthy business partnership. A great example is the partnership between Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google. After setting up shop in a friend’s a garage, Larry and Sergey incorporated the business in September of 1998 and quickly grew the business to file for an IPO in 2004 and create the world’s top search engine. While they didn’t always see eye to eye, there were both committed to doing good – the catalyst to Google’s moto, “don’t be evil.” As their business grew, so did their friendship, which they both say is the reason they were so successful.
Vow #1: Be Committed
Particularly in the first few years, it’s important for partners to be on the same page about goals, objectives, and commitments needed for business success. When partners are emotionally invested in the project, it makes work much more manageable. With that comes understanding that everyone has a life outside of work, and that partners should be aware of personal obligations and work together to work around those commitments.
Vow #2: Maintain Realistic Expectations
While it’s easy to think you/your partners will be able to handle everything, chances are, you will likely run into some tasks that are simply outside you areas of expertise. Our experience has showed us it’s better to hire someone who is an expert in the field you need, such as an incorporation lawyer, rather than trying to navigate the waters on your own. Will you outsource marketing or does someone internally have the bandwidth to take this on? Perhaps explore outsourcing payroll or hiring a specialist to manage your IT needs may alleviate some business stress. They key is to be honest about your personal limits and communicate those needs with your partners.
Vow #3: Embrace Being the “Other Half”
Opposites really do attract. Is your partner more math-oriented? Are you more creative? Are you super organized and them a bit more organic? Go with it! Some believe that conflict can come between two people who believe they are both experts in the same area. Avoid unnecessary tension by embracing where skills differ.
Vow #4: Share.
The rule we all learned in pre-school still applies today – sharing is caring, and it’s also good for business. Forming a company can be overwhelming, but sharing that experience with a partner can help create a level playing field and a strong team culture. Do you work alongside of multiple partners? Our customers have found the most success when they operate as one unit, celebrating achievements and managing pitfalls as a group, not on individual levels.
Need more information about filing for a partnership? We help lay the groundwork for which partnership may be right for you. We also recommend drafting up a partnership agreement, like this sample from Entrepreneur Magazine. As always, feel free to use this glossary with important terms to help you navigate your small business!