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Business Partnerships: Planning Ahead

Posted by Sherry H. Rodriguez | Aug 07, 2023 | 0 Comments

Starting or running a business is both an exciting and challenging endeavor. While there is something to be said about running a business by yourself, there are also many benefits to running a business with someone else.

Business partnerships often offer the business and owners more funds, more knowledge and expertise, and more connections than businesses that are owned by a single individual. And as the old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.”

However, business partnerships are a lot like a marriage - and if you go in blind, you leave a lot up to chance. Business partnerships typically start relatively on the same page with good intentions, but what happens when you have your first disagreement?  What if that disagreement ends up being a dealbreaker that one (or both of) the partners cannot overcome? 

It's for this very reason that you and your business partner should take the time to discuss at least short- and long-term goals, expectations of each other, and clarity about what each of you are bringing to the business and expected to contribute in the future.  While no business partnership is guaranteed to be a success, having the right conversations and the appropriate contingency plans in place can create a significant advantage.

Consider implementing the following steps to set your business partnership up for success:

  • Choose a partner with similar and/or complementary values: Confirm that you and your partner have visions and goals for the business that are at least compatible if not exactly the same. You want to work with someone who is equally committed to the time and energy it takes to run a business and know that you will both be running in the same direction. Building a foundation of honesty and trust in the beginning will ensure the longevity of your partnership and business success, and you both need to be OK with talking through disagreements.

  • Select the right business structure: Did you know there's more to business structure beyond choosing to form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Corporation? No matter the legal entity you decide to create, you'll want to make sure that the business operates in a way that is agreeable to both partners while both partners are on the same page. In other words, you'll want the right documents in place that clearly identify how major decisions are made, how profits and losses are distributed, and who has what powers and responsibilities.  These documents will set up your business for success and protect both partners if things go south.

  • Divide and conquer: For many business owners it can be challenging to let tasks go, especially in the early stages of business ownership. But that's why you decided to have a partner, remember? Take the time to understand both of your strengths and weaknesses. Then, divide up the labor and management responsibilities accordingly. Delegating is one of the easiest and hardest things to do right as a business owner - it requires just the right amount of trust, accountability, and effective communication.

  • Communicate and Celebrate: The best partners are the best communicators. Relationships are hard. Mix in money and livelihoods, and you've got yourself a business partner. That's why it's so critical that you and your business partner understand the importance of and commit to talking things out. Avoiding conflict usually just saves it up for another day, often compounding the conflict's impact. Schedule regular check-ins and make a point to not avoid conflict. Conflict is not a bad thing - it's what ensures meaningful dialogue and an exploration of ideas to get to better solutions. And just as important as it is to face conflict to resolution, remember to celebrate each other's success and milestones. Take the time to communicate appreciation and recognition for each partner's contributions to the joint business venture.

Hammering out these details isn't the most fun part of starting and running a new business, but it's an essential step to position your business and business partnership to last. Circumstances can change at the drop of a hat. The stronger your business partnership is, the more likely your business will overcome anything that comes its way.  

At R&R Legal, we use our personal experiences and expertise to help you, your partner(s), and your business ensure you are protected where you want to be, so you can focus on running and growing your business. 

Schedule a consultation with us to find out more. 

About the Author

Sherry H. Rodriguez

Ms. Rodriguez is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of R&R Legal.  She leads the firm's mission to empower business owners to take control of their life and legacy with clarity and intention.  Her practice includes strategic business counsel and estate planning in New Jersey and New York. Gr...


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