There are many arguments for going into business with someone else. Joint enterprises ensure double the investment and double the ideas. With that in mind, what could be better than going into business with a friend? This is someone you already know and trust. You can enter a partnership with all rewards and none of the bad stuff. Or, can you?
In truth, many good relationships have been destroyed by business. Most notably, consider Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. It all started well in the garage, but different priorities and attitudes soon set them apart. If it can happen to the “Steves”, it can happen to you and your partner. That is, unless you take action to keep things together from the start.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
The most important aspect of successful partnerships is communication. That’s true in life, love, and business. If you don’t talk to each other before making big decisions, you’re going to come up against problems. To make sure that doesn’t happen, ALWAYS talk things through. Listen to what your partner’s saying. Misunderstandings are just as dangerous as not communicating in the first place. Make sure that your partner is the first and only person to hear about ideas. If you tell staff or outsiders prematurely, a break down could easily happen. It only takes one person to mention what you’ve said, and your partner could think you’re working against them.
Keep things legal
It’s also crucial to do everything by the book. It may sound cliche, but this is the only real way to keep partnerships amicable. Even if you trust your partner, sign written contracts and put legal agreements in place. This will help you both know where you stand. Take the time to decide on which legal agreements would work best for both of you. You can get started here by reading articles like this one about operating agreement vs bylaws. Even if you feel they’re unnecessary, steps like these could save everyone a lot of heartache down the line.
Keep things fair
It’s also essential that you keep things fair with money and shares. If you get into matters of ‘this was my idea, so I deserve more’, the partnership will fall apart. Instead, accept that your partner will benefit from your work. You’ll benefit from theirs, too. If the partnership is an equal and fair one, everything will even itself out. If you’re worried that your partner isn’t contributing, head back to the communication stage rather than tipping the scales. Unlike issues with money, communication problems are fairly easy to overcome.