Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Bill Gates and Paul Allen. What do they all have in common? Yes, they did all design some of the first computers, but more importantly, they created some very successful companies based on strong partnerships. Not that every partnership will work out to create a thriving company, in fact, most don’t, but finding the right one and doing it the right way can make all the difference. If you’re looking to create a business partnership that will work and last, here’s some tips to get you started:
Discuss your goals. When starting a partnership, it’s important to understand where the other person sees him or herself in one, five or even ten years. The same goes for the business. This means setting goals, both short and long-term, in order to decide the direction of your business. It’s not uncommon to see partners split due to having conflicting ideas about the direction of the business and then before you know it, your partner is your competitor.
Communicate regularly. There’s no better way to make sure you’re on the same page as your business partner than to communicate regularly. This will keep your business working towards your goals and keep from redundancies, miscommunications and disagreement. These are all often the result of assumptions. There will be disagreements and that’s okay. The key is to limit the miscommunications as best you can and your partnership will be more efficient like it should be.
Designate roles. As I said before, avoiding redundancies makes for a better partnership. Right from the start, you should split up the responsibilities and designate roles for each person. This plan will not be set in stone of course, so don’t be afraid to change it as your needs change. It is however, a guide to get your business running smoothly. One of the easiest ways to designate roles is to split up a business’s five major practices: product, people, process, place and promotion. For more information on how to break those down further, check out this helpful guide from Ignition Consulting Group.
Pick a partner with different strengths. Having a business partner with different strengths can be one of the biggest benefits to a partnership. A yin and yang relationship like this can result in you and your partner to be complementary to each other. Where you are weak, they will step in and vise-versa. Don’t feel the need to strive where they are stronger. Attempting to overpower your partner’s strengths is wasting your effort, so focus on what you do best- it’s not a competition between the two or three of you.
Realize when it’s time to go your different ways. Splitting as business partners can actually be the smart business move at times. There are many factors though, that account for whether or not you should end your business relationship, but if and when the time comes, make it amicable and fair. One of these reasons is that the two of you disagree on too many issues. This could potentially lead to a loss of trust and respect. If communication stops and you see the company going different directions, perhaps the two of you should go different directions instead.
Whether you’re the next Steve Jobs or an entrepreneur looking to get a start in business, a partner can be beneficial both financially and for the processes to keep your business running each day. Take into consideration whether or not a partner is the right fit for the business you wish to start, but if so, pursue it to the highest degree. A partner can be there to confirm your ideas, but the willingness to question each other is the complementary strength your business just might need. Go ahead and get started if you’ve already found the right partner, if not, one will come around eventually. Keep looking!
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