4 Tips For A Great Business Partnership by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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The Beatles are seen performing, date unknown. From left to right: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr on drums. (AP Photo)

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Lennon and McCartney. Jobs and Wozniak. Lewis and Clark. Leopold and Loeb. Well, not the last one. But the first three, and myriad other great partnerships, illustrate the power of putting two or more great minds together to work on a big idea. Without Wozniak creating something new and amazing to sell, Jobs could have easily just been a dreamer. Without McCartney, Lennon might have been an acerbic guy who experimented with drugs and garbled the English language. They had their strengths on their own, but when they partnered, they created magic.

A partnership can lead to great things. There’s nothing like having someone there to laugh at your jokes, validate your ideas, and caution you when you go off the rails. Arguably the most important institution in society: marriage—is really just a partnership. Life without partnerships would be less full and imaginative. But there are right ways to partner and wrong ways to partner.

Over the years, I’ve partnered with other writers and entrepreneurs many times. Some of the combinations succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. Others ended in acrimony and abject failure. Here are four key lessons I’ve picked up along that way that can help you partner better.

Create a partnership agreement. Don’t even think of embarking on a journey together without setting out your expectations in writing with a partnership agreement. You can start with a draft agreement that you discover online, but make sure you revise it and make it your own. Go back and forth with your partner and make sure you cover all of the key elements. What are the scheduling expectations? Financial implications? What if one partner disagrees with a decision? Who decides what the partnership works on and what kind of resources are devoted to it? What happens if one partner wants to go off and do something similar on their own? Who owns what? How does the partnership end? You don’t want to let fear keep you from moving forward, but just like learning to fall before you learn how to ski, planning to deal with predictable and unexpected challenges is the key to forming a good and lasting partnership.

Create a communication structure. Schedule daily check-ins, weekly sales and marketing meetings, quarterly reviews, an annual meeting. The key to a strong partnership is open, honest, and frequent communication. If you and your partner aren’t loquacious, then create a formal structure to make sure you bring up unresolved issues. Force yourselves and your organization to discuss challenges and opportunities on a regular basis.

Use your imagination. I’m a Beatles fan, not just of their music, but also of the unique structure they created that has allowed the Beatles brand to flourish even after sixty years. One of the key elements of the agreement allowed each Beatle to craft solo albums while still separately producing Beatles product. In fact, the group split the proceeds of those solo albums for the first few years after The Beatles dissolved as an entity. And after the The Beatles entity dissolved, their company, Apple Corps, Ltd., continued to develop Beatle projects that had a life well beyond the group itself. There was some messiness and acrimony, but the creative work has lived on and flourished because of a series of updated partnership agreements. There was one notable flaw–McCartney had to sue to dissolve the 1967 agreement when the group broke up. A good reminder to plan for the business breakup as well as the combination.

Keep it simple. Avoid the tendency to think that a formal partnership requires lawyers, accountants, employees and overhead. At the root of it, a partnership is an agreement among like-minded people to achieve a goal. That’s it. You can craft the agreement on a napkin, if you don’t mind the coffee stains. All the other things necessary to grow the resulting business and organization can develop in due time. Don’t rush the red tape. Stay focused on the thing you’re creating and let enthusiasm guide you to the next step.

A partnership can be simple or complex, easy or tense, long-lasting, or truncated. You could write a book on the subject (and lots of business experts have). Don’t let the presumed complexities keep you from partnering with the right person or group of people to help you achieve greatness. After all, McCartney without Lennon would seem like only Yesterday.

April 9, 2019 at 10:05AM
https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamjeakle/2019/04/09/4-tips-for-a-great-business-partnership/
Forbes – Entrepreneurs
http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/
http://bit.ly/2CMy7Yu