Running a business is a huge undertaking.  Especially if you’re doing it alone. Having a partner can relieve some of the burdens.  There are many reasons to consider forming a partnership.  Sometimes two heads are better than one.  Sometimes taking on a partner can infuse much-needed capital into the firm for the many expenses.  Sometimes a partner can bring a skill set into the business that you lack.  Whatever the reason, careful, rational consideration must go into selecting a partner, or even if you should take one on.

Partnerships have their advantages.  The duties of running a business can be divided.  One partner might be a good administrator, while the other might be a good salesman.  One partner might be good at training, equipping, and leading the field technicians, while the other is good at bookkeeping.  Make sure the partner you select has different strengths and skills than you.  It will help clarify lines of authority and prevent straying into each other’s lanes.  Pick a partner that shares your vision and outlook for the firm—personality matters.  An overbearing authoritarian may be challenging to deal with. Pick a partner with whom you can get along.

There are disadvantages to partnerships.  For one thing, you have to divide the profits.  A clash of personalities can tear a company apart.  Power struggles can be crippling.  Different priorities can pull the firm in different directions.  Head these problems off before they occur by having in place a formalized agreement written down outlining the procedures that govern the firm.

Some of the greatest and most successful firms in history started as partnerships.  Levi-Strauss.  Anhueser Busch.  Proctor and Gamble.  But they are not always easy to maintain.  Both parties must have the flexibility of mind and the ability to consider the others’ point of view.  Both parties must strive to come to a consensus.  I was involved in a business partnership for 25 years.  Even though we dissolved the business, I’m still involved in one even as we speak.  She is my wife, after all…