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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.
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. 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.
Key questions to answer include: Do you and your partner share personal and professional values, ideas and goals?
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.
Be especially careful when partnering with close friends or family members. Like many marriages, business partnerships can end in bitter divorce.
Approach a partnership with close friends or family as you might with strangers: A note about partnering with a spouse: Working together puts an added strain on a relationship, and couples can quickly discover there is a little too much togetherness. Those who succeed often have learned to set boundaries keep the business from dominating every aspect of their lives.
For example, they may have agreed to leave the office at 5 p. Once the decision is made to start a business together, you should create a partnership agreement with help from a lawyer and an accountant.
Take this step no matter who your partner is. People with strong personal connections may feel certain that their supposedly unbreakable bond will help them overcome any obstacles along the way.
Get a written agreement. Every agreement should address three crucial areas: Include who owns what percentage of the business, who is investing what, where the money is coming from, and how and when partners will be paid.
But terms can vary greatly. For instance, one partner might contribute more money if the other partner can bring in expertise or business contacts. As the business grows and changes, adjust compensation accordingly.
For example, partners may agree to work initially without compensation, and to get paid after a certain revenue target is reached. In addition, if the business partnership brings on more people or if a particular partner is putting in more or less time, building some flexibility into the contract can let you adjust payments.
The agreement should also cover how you plan to exit the business. If neither partner wants to continue the business, partners can also liquidate and divide all assets.
The agreement should specify who appraises the business and the methodology to use. Clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities of the partners based on their skills and desires. This will eliminate turf wars and clearly show employees to whom they should report.
Establish routines for daily communication.Want to do successful business with Africa? Here are some tips to help you do just that. How To Succeed In The African Market Want to do successful business with Africa? Here are some tips to help you do just that Finding the right customers in the African market can be a time-consuming process.
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1. Find a good business idea.