Thursday, August 21, 2014

Partners in business

     Free daily tips, information and advice for small business
     from personal experience--been there, done that.

     You will find this useful if you are considering taking on a partner in your business. Two people joining together to form a business is sort of like a marriage. 

     Partners must be compatible with each other, appreciate each other's company, and complement each other.

     Example: Clayton ran a small carpentry business. He had many years experience building fine cabinetry in residences, offices and clinics. Business was good, but Clayton wanted to expand. He, his employees and his shop could handle more jobs, but he knew he lacked the "outside" skills--meeting new people, attending events, selling his services. He found a potential partner in Bill. They enjoyed their conversations and respected each other's mind set. Bill had a successful career behind him selling window treatments to residential clients, decorators, and office managers. Clayton and Bill formed a partnership based on all the new business Bill could bring to the cabinet shop over the course of a year. If targets were met, Clayton and Bill would own equal parts of the ongoing business.

     Look for partners who bring talents that complement your own. If you're good at production but not so good at selling, do as Clayton did. A careful phasing-in period can be important to iron out the details.

     Setting up a partnership in an existing business is one thing. Setting up a partnership as a brand new operation is another. 

     Example: Gary had run several successful businesses. Looking around, he saw a new opportunity in real estate--small apartment buildings. Money was not his problem, but Gary realized he would need a detail oriented partner. He began a search--asking business friends, interviewing several possible candidates, and, finally, homing in on a young man named Jose. Jose was bright, energetic, ambitious, a "self starter" and had held several different jobs in the construction trades while in high school. Best of all, Gary and Jose had compatible personalities. Gary proposed an equal partnership, starting out with a small apartment house. Gary would handle the business end (banks, lawyers, taxes, etc.) while Jose would handle maintenance, customer complaints, and search out additional properties they might acquire. The partnership was successful. Gary and Jose worked together, relying on each other's experience and talents.

     Care must be exercised in setting up a partnership. Two partners who do the same things get in each other's way. Two partners who complement each other have a good chance at success.

     All my examples are taken from personal experience--only the names are changed. For more than 30 years, I ran my own businesses, and for ten years I headed the Business Owners Institute in New Jersey--all the while writing about small business. I have learned the hard lessons of small business--what works and what does not work. And that is why I write this daily blog.   

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