A business partnership can be an incredible success or an unfortunate failure. What starts out as hopeful excitement can quickly turn into stress and resentment when one partner feels like they are doing the bulk of the work or reaping most of the benefits.

That said, there are many business partnerships that are successful and many ways that you can set up your partnership for success. Here are some tips if you’re considering forming a new business partnership:

Choose a Partner With a Different Skill Set Than Yours

You don’t want to choose a business partner who has similar strengths as you do. Ideally, you would each have a passion for the business but different skills to bring to the table. For example, don’t choose a partner who has a writing background when you’re already a good writer or someone with an extensive PR background if that’s your industry as well. You want to join your strengths together to create a stronger business, not one that’s too one sided.

Decide Who Will Represent the Company in the Media

Rarely will two partners sit down together for interviews or run meetings together. One person should be the figurehead of the company while the other can be the Chief Financial Officer or the back end technology expert. In most partnerships there will be someone who is more of a natural leader or more interested in being the face of the company in the media. If your partner is better suited to that than you are, then think of ways you can help. For example, maybe you’ll help pitch the company to the media while your partner will be the one actually giving quotes and interviews to the media.

Create Legal Contracts and Boundaries

It doesn’t matter if your partner is your best friend from grade school or your twin sister. Every single business partnership needs set guidelines and boundaries of what to expect. This process should never be rushed. Sit down with business coaches and business experts and read about successful partnerships. What made them that way? Discuss what will happen if you disagree. Discuss what will happen if the company runs into financial trouble. Discuss what happens if for some reason someone wants to be bought out and leave to do another job. Discuss how on what terms and how your partnership will be dissolved in this case. This will save you from signifiant headaches down the road, especially if you formalize your agreement and sign it.

Ultimately, when you start a business partnership or begin to conceptualize it, it’s hard to imagine that something might go wrong. After all, you’re excited about your upcoming business, enthusiastic about the prospects, and passionate about your cause. However, despite the excitement, it’s extremely important to make sure that you’re making a wise choice in your business partner. Think about which partner will be responsible for which activities and what will happen if one or both of you is unable to work for a period of time or can’t contribute in some way. Essentially, by being methodical about your partner selection and setting up your business, you definitely have a better chance of being successful on your next partnership venture.


Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, her writing and expertise have been featured in dozens of notable publications and in national media.

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