Partners? Will They Work For Your Start Up Business?

by Norma Rist on July 29, 2010


So many women owners ask me if they should look for a partner in their business.  They say that it will be easier with someone to share the risk, share the work, share the vision.  Also, they picture, two of them will have more skills and knowledge to use to start and build the business.  All of that is true. 

However, it also means that one partner may hold back because the other partner is not certain of the direction.  Or one partner will wait to consult the other partner before taking action.  Or two partners will disagree about how fast to grow, or how much to invest, or when to add a service line, or when to pay for marketing/computers/etc.
I have known any number of partners who attempted to grow a business together, and of all of them I only would point to one set of partners who made it in the long run.  For every good reason to have a partner, there are six reasons to go it alone.
If you are determined to have a partner then try this exercise.  Make a job description for each of you and look at both of them and think about whether you can live with them.  Move jobs from one person to the other if needed.  (Live with them for perhaps a year, and update them every year on your company anniversary.)  Then make one more sheet of paper and title it ‘List of Shared Decisions’.  Add to the list every type of decision that you both believe should be discussed with the partner before implementing.
The job descriptions should help to keep you from trying to perform the other person’s job, and the List of Shared Decisions should help you to know when to have a company meeting.

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