by Geordie Killen, CEO of Control Fire Protection
Starting up a business is no simple matter. Just ask any business owner that you know and they’ll pepper you with horror stories of how their venture started out. And overcoming the start up stages of the business iss every entrepreneur’s pride.
One of the most important decisions every business owner have to deal with during the initial stages is whether to find a business partner or not. Some think that it’s the key to a successful venture while others advise against. Confusing, right?
I’m not here to tell you whether you should find a partner or not because I believe the decision depends on what you and your business needs. What I’ll do is lay down the advantages and disadvantages of having a partner, and I’ll leave it up to you to decide which path to take.
Partnerships have a lot of benefits, that why it is the most preferred business structure for startups. Here are the reasons why:
Diversity of Skills.
One more person onboard means one more set of skills, experience and ideas on the table. A business partner brings in a lot to the venture more than an extra pair of hands. If your partner is skilled in Accounting or other aspects of the business you are not familiar with, this saves you the trouble of hiring someone else to handle those specific tasks. Taking advantage of different sets of skills can help your business by conserving time and eliminating duplicate work.
Having a partner means having another person do what you should, freeing you up for other tasks you have to deal with. Remember, starting a business is a lot of work. You have to do market research, meet with investors, create a marketing strategy, etc. Working with a partner means you’ll get to finish twice the amount of work for the same amount of time.
Not sure if your decision is right? Having a partner means having someone to discuss your options with. Sometimes you might think that you have the best idea or solution to the problem, but you’ll be surprised at how creative other people’s suggestions can be.
Having a partner means being accountable to that person. You’re no longer working for your success, but for your partner’s as well. This will avoid slacking off and keep you both motivated in the long run.
On the other hand, some business owners prefer working solo because of the risks associated with partnership. Here are some of them.
One of the most common causes of partnership failure is when the people involved don’t see eye to eye. Disagreements happen, what matters is how they are handled. If disagreements are not resolved quickly, it will lead to more problems for the business, stress for the workers and later on, collapse of the business venture.
Having a partner means splitting the profits with him or her. The point here is that your partner should be contributing the same amount of work and effort as you do. If you think your partner is slacking off and only enjoys the profit, you may be better off alone.
Different work ethics (or lack thereof).
It’s hard to find someone who shares the same passion and dedication for the business venture as you do. If you find that person, you should thank your lucky stars. But more often than not, you’ll only really know the person when you work with him or her. If you notice a lot of missed deadlines and empty hours, then that partner is not right for you.
Failing a business is one thing, ruining your relationship is another. Running a business together can lead to disagreements and these can cause damage to your personal relationship, especially if your partner is a family member or a close friend.
Damage to your reputation.
Having a dishonest or unscrupulous partner would affect your personal reputation and your business’ trustworthiness.
Having a business partner is like a double-edged sword. It could work for or against you. Before deciding to find a partner, evaluate your business needs first and see if you can do it alone or you need some help. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of having partner and analyse your reason for needing one. And when you decide to go for it, make sure to get to know your partner first before trusting him or her head on.
Geordie Killen is the CEO and trusted fire protection specialist at Control Fire Protection. In the early stages of his start up, he decided to take on a business partner, three years later still believes it was a worthwhile decision in terms of business growth. You can connect with Geordie on Linkedin.