For Better or Worse

[ via Rajesh Jain ]

I am a big supporter of Entrepreneurship and was happy to come across a well-written piece on Going into business with a partner, thanks to a post on the Emergic blog :

Starting a business with a partner (or partners) is very different than starting one alone. The closest analogy I can come up with is that it’s like marrying someone, and the business you build is your child. Now you’d never marry someone simply because they possess different skills than you do (she likes to cook, and I don’t mind cleaning up, so I guess we’re a match!). You marry someone who shares similar values and who shares similar goals. Choosing a business partner is a decision that should be undertaken with the gravity of any long-term commitment.

If you like to spend a lot of money and your partner doesn’t, you’re going to clash. If you want to grow the business and she wants to keep a small team, you’ll fight. Your partner may want to do something you consider morally questionable, how will you resolve it? Add to the partnership the questions of equity and authority, never mind cash flow and the actual work you have to do for clients, and pretty quickly you can find yourself in one heck of a mess. The more work you can do upfront before starting the business to ensure you and your partner(s) are a good match, the greater the likelihood of success. Spend a lot of time talking about your hopes and dreams for the company, and discuss what you’ll do when you don’t agree about something, and how you’d handle things if the money ran out.

Having run my own business for over one and half years with a college friend as a partner, I completely agree with the above. At the end of the day, its about matching idealogies and merging interests, and working towards a common goal. And in spite of that, the “marriage” may not last as long as you’d expect it to.

Some times, the individual paths start diverging after a while (as it happened with us). When that happens, it’s important that every one involved gets fair value for the efforts invested. As long as you don’t lose sight of that, you’re alright.

One more thing : Many of us want to go into business because they simply don’t like the idea of “working for someone”. I think taking that approach is a big mistake. In your own setup, you’re working for the “client”. And I can tell you this : The client is far more demanding than an employer can ever be. So if you’re thinking of taking the plunge, at least don’t do it for the wrong reasons.

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3 Comments

  1. it is common knowledge that many people get into a business only because they dont enjoy working for somebody or in philosophical terms be a master of their own destiny.of course we also marvel at the great successes of companies which started with a bright idea from somebody who dreamed of making it big.the points you have mentioned are sensible.But i ask out of a need for enlightenment what reasons are sound for starting a business.i dont believe that only those who have a great idea for a product or service should start a business.i suppose literature abounds on this topic but you could still tell us succinctly…

  2. * Editor’s Reply *”What reasons are sound for starting a business?” That’s an interesting question you have posed, Anand. People choose this route for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s the “call of entrepreneurship”. For others, it’s just family legacy, and nothing else seems possible. Still others see it as a means of escaping the drudgery of a 9-to-5 job, and one that simultaneously offers the chance to truly create wealth for one self. (I believe the book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ describes this phenomenon quite well). Ask an entrepreneur to define “risk”, and you will hear : “Risk is having one source of income (as in a salary).” But the road less travelled is not for the weak-hearted. Nor is it for those who are enamoured by its glamour and hype. Try running your own business for a month… a week… and you will truly come to appreciate the effort that went into creating a business empire from scratch. Yes, running your own business offers the prospect of tremendous success. But there are almost as many (small and big) failures lining its path.My answer to your question is this : There is only one reason one should do it : Because that is what one wants to do in life… more than any other thing in the whole wide world. Any thing short of that – any venture that lacks that passion – will not have much of a chance to succeed.Because the path of an entrepreneur is fraught with obstacles and difficulties. And, in the words of Dan Bricklin’s : “As you jump from rock to slippery rock, you have to like the feeling.”P.S. Any candidate for an entrepreneurial stint would be well advised to read Rajesh Jain’s series on the subject : http://www.samachar.com/tech/archives/techtalk63.html

  3. In principle it is good to want to pursue a business on the steam of one’s passion for something to the exclusion of everything else.nevertheless there are many who drift into it under the burden of economic necessity and other personal compulsions and yet make a success of it because of external factors such as an unmet demand for a product or service and indescribable “luck”.it would be useful to ponder on the pitfalls to look out for having got into business.of course if the business model were flawed at the outset much damage has been done but there is hope to be had in the stories of those valiant entrepreneurs who rescued their businesses from the abyss of disaster…

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