[ 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.