3 Tips for Starting a Functional, Friendly Business Partnership

Friendly BusinessAs a young entrepreneur or soon-to-be small business starter, the idea of partnering with a friend, sibling, or  acquaintance often seems very attractive from a conceptual standpoint.  One imagines a business relationship void of variances in opinion, troublesome arguments, and the potential for ugly litigation in the future.  However, starting a business with someone whom you share a solid familial or friendship bond with can be a dangerous idea, and one that should be heavily considered and thought-out in advance.

– Devise Exit Strategies

Before you start your business, it’s wise to come up with particular exit strategies for each partner should things ever go south.

Though talking about these things in advance can seem pessimistic and counterproductive to success, it’s a very practical and realistic way of going about a business relationship, and can really do wonders for your ultimate friendship if nothing else.  Whether it be as detailed as devising a particular strategy for the type of corporate counsel you might seek in the future, or simply planning who will take over what aspects of the company or which financial resources, conceptualizing a reasonable exit strategy is a great way to ensure at least a friendly, peaceable end to your business should it be necessary.

– Open Solid Lines of Communication

From the get-go, you and your business partner should get in the habit of speaking routinely and freely about your ideas and goals for the business.  If you don’t see eye to eye on certain points of the business, make sure you really flesh out your concerns and find solutions for these discrepancies before you jump into anything.  If you fail to open solid lines of communication in the beginning of the partnership, problems down the line can become that much more deep-seeded and potentially destructive.

It’s important to realize from the beginning that not every aspect/decision of the business will be mutually conferred upon by both partners, and that like any relationship, compromise is key.

– Develop a Business Plan and Set Roles

Many startup partnerships make the mistake of shooting from the hip as it relates to business plans and partner’s roles within the company.  By setting up a very specific business plan before beginning, you can ensure that all members are on the same page as far as goals and operational processes are concerned.  This will lessen the likelihood of arguments resulting in differences of opinion about how or what the company’s direction should be.

Additionally, by setting different roles for each business partner, you also lessen the likelihood of opinion discrepancies by giving each partner a very defined aspect of the company to control and focus on.

Picking these roles before you begin and with the personal strengths of each individual in mind, is a great way to ensure the greatest productivity and chances for success in the future.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when starting a business with someone you’re close to is that despite your relationship, it is business after all.  Making sure that you both have the same ultimate goals, and very similar ideas about the best ways of achieving those goals, is paramount to starting a functional and successful partnership.  Although there are certainly other considerations to take into account beforehand, hopefully these few concepts with help lead you to the good partnership practices, and continue future success.

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