Usually I begin my posts with a penis joke and some filler. Today, to totally screw with you, I’m going to start with a story of two business partners. To protect their identiy, they will have hilarious fake names.
Ulga and Hortense were the best of friends. They both had interests in real estate, so they started hanging out and talking about the business. As the friendship deepened, they decided to team up and buy an asset that neither could really afford on their own. For a few years, everything went well, so they bought some other investments together. Within a decade, each had a substantial amount invested in the joint partnership.
Things started to unravel from there. Ulga decided that Hortense did such a good job running things that she’d just leave her alone. So she did, and naturally Hortense grew a little resentful because she was doing a greater share of the work. Ulga started to sense the hostility, so she spent even less time working, probably spending the time looking to change her crappy name. At this point, they’re still business partners, but they barely spend an hour a day together. It’s obvious Hortense thinks Ulga is lazy, and it’s obvious Ulga thinks Hortense should lighten up.
Geez, those fake names were horrible. I could have used Billy and Timmy too…
Why would anybody want to form a partnership? There are all sorts of reasons. Perhaps, like our poorly named examples, the individuals involved in the venture just don’t have the capital to take it on without partners. Maybe they’re trying to spread around the risk. Or maybe it’s a situation where one partner thinks the other is ideal because each partner has very different strengths. If one partner is a big picture guy and the other is very good at little things, that can lead to a successful partnership.
Another big advantage is the built in support system that comes with partnerships. If you’re feeling a little bummed out, it only takes a pep talk from your partner to get things going again. Generally, looking at problems from two differing vantage points can be an advantage too, providing the discussion doesn’t devolve into a shouting match.
So it’s settled, right? Partnerships are the greatest thing since breast implants! Let’s all go find a partner and fornicate us some new businesses! Not so fast, Sparky. If you’re going to partner up, you have to choose very carefully. Personally, I would never partner up with someone else, with two notable exceptions. We’ll get to those in a minute.
The disadvantages of partnerships are many. If the company gets sued because your moron partner did something stupid, guess who has to help cough up any damages? Partners share in all the profits, but they also share in all the losses. Something might be 100% not your fault, but you’re still going to be at least partially responsible.
As I alluded to in my story above, often one (or both) partner will turn into a slacker once the partnership has been going for a little while. Think about your work ethic at your current job. As you get a little more comfortable, you slack off a little more. You don’t do extra stuff anymore. You don’t put in the overtime. You just kind of coast. It’s only human nature to do that, at least some of the time. Even though your partner may be doing the exact same thing, it will cause friction in your relationship.
If you run a solo show, there’s little doubt about who to blame when stuff doesn’t get done.
Remember the opposites attract point that was pro-partnership? That can also be a negative, since it’s just about guaranteed to lead to some EPIC fights between partners. At some point, you’ll either have to compromise or beat the other guy into submission. You know those fights where you just give in so it’s over? Expect to have a few of them.
I’ve been known to have
arguments polite disagreements with people about all sorts of things. If somebody thinks my reasoning is flawed, I really don’t care. But what if they’re my business partner? What do you do then?
I really don’t like partnerships, unless you can do it with either a) a family member or b) someone you’re sleeping with. Why would I make those two exceptions?
Because when the bonds go deeper than the business, both parties have motivation to work through their problems. It’s not just all about business. And besides, I guarantee you know your brother/dad/ladyfriend better than you know most everyone else, meaning you know what you’re getting into.
The other thing I find about successful partnerships is when one of the partners has the final say. Often you’ll see one of the partners be the de facto decision maker, even though ownership is split 50-50. Maybe the subservient partner just yields to the stronger personality, or maybe they just admit they’re not very good at making big picture decisions. Whatever the reason, having one partner to make the decisions can actually be a good thing.
Even though I don’t think I’d be too excited about forming a partnership, I can see the advantages to the setup. Anyone have any experiences they’d like to share? Comment away, bitches.