Posted in: Business Partners in Ukraine | Posted: |
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How to Start a Business with a Partner?
Business partners often start businesses together with little planning and few ground rules. Sooner or later, they discover the hard way that what’s left unsaid or unplanned often leads to unmet expectations, anger and frustration. Partners can clash over countless things, including conflicting work ethics and financial goals, roles in the business and leadership styles. What follows is a primer on how to avoid that and set up — and sustain — a business partnership.
First, ask yourself: Do I really need a business partner to build a successful company? Taking on business partners should be reserved for when a partnership is critical to success — say, when the prospective partner has financial resources, connections or vital skills you lack. You may be better off hiring the other person as an employee or an independent contractor.
Communication is important at every stage of a partnership, and especially so at the outset. A common mistake business partners make is jumping into business before really getting to know each other. You must be able to connect to feel comfortable expressing your opinions, ideas and expectations.
If you haven’t worked together previously, test the partnership out by tackling a small project together that showcases each other’s skills and requires cooperation. This is also a way to learn about each other’s personality and core values.
Ideally partners’ professional skills should complement one another, but not overlap too much. For example, you may be detail oriented and your partner may be a big-picture thinker. Or you may be an expert in marketing and sales, while your partner prefers to stay in the backdrop poring over financials.
To gauge how well you might work together, have a chat with each other’s colleagues and family members. Key questions to answer include:
- Do you and your partner share personal and professional values, ideas and goals?
- Do you trust your partner’s motivations and character?
- In what areas of everyday life and business do you agree?
Other points to consider:
- What if a spouse or kid later wants to join the business?
- How will it be handled if one partner acts unethically?
- What if one partner wants to move out of the country?
Potential partners may want to consider taking a two- or three-day retreat together to go over their individual expectations for the business and partnership, one by one, and compare notes. It can help the conversation to have the partners guess each other’s expectations before revealing them to each other.
Be especially careful when partnering with close friends or family members. Like many marriages, business partnerships can end in bitter divorce. Consider whether you’re willing to risk hurting your relationship if the partnership falls apart.