Considerations When Forming a Business with Multiple Partners

PartnersIn a previous article we discussed things to ponder when considering a business partnership. In this article, we’re going to deepen and broaden the conversation by considering the question from the aspect of bringing on multiple partners.  

Partnerships continue to rise, according to IRS data, as do the profits from those partnerships, so this topic deserves our consideration, even if our gut initially tells us “No.”

Why

You need to start with why and ask yourself if you really need business partners. Would those partners provide an accelerant for what you’re doing? Are they necessary for you to do the business at all?  

Further things to think about include:

  • Do you share the same vision for the business?
    Lifestyle business or a growth business?  Does everyone have the same answer to that?  If not, there’s going to be a problem.
  • Do you have the same enthusiasm and energy for the business?
    To invest time, money, and mental energy, this can’t simply be a “would be good to do” but something more like a “have to do.”  Make sure you’re selecting people who share the passion for what you’re building, not just because they have the right resume.
  • Do you have complementary skills?
    If you’re going to explore bringing on multiple partners, make sure that your skill sets complement one another. Naturally, there will be some overlap, but there’s no point in having five Operations people and no Salespeople, or vice versa. The right people on the bus aren’t just defined by personality, but by what they bring to the table. When there’s overlap, it might make sense to pick the best one of multiple choices.
  • Do you get along? Do you have any track record of working together on anything in the past?
    This is key. Without this personal experience, you’re simply taking a guess.

What

We’ve all witnessed partnerships fall apart, sometimes spectacularly and publicly. These situations can often be traced to things that were never said or addressed.

When you first begin ideating about starting a company together, make sure everything is on the table. Spell out rights and responsibilities. Give special attention to what happens when someone leaves and how that happens.

By highlighting from the beginning that an agreement isn’t about when things go right, but how to smartly handle the business when things go wrong, people are free to objectively share all of their concerns.

Be clear on how decisions are made and who makes them, as well as how profits are to be paid out. Do your best to create an environment for open, honest discussion, leaving as little as possible unsaid or unplanned.

Speaking of partners, we’re always looking for the right people to join our team here at Apex. If you know someone who might be a good fit for us, send them this article or connect them with us via email!

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