Picture yourself in a cottage in the woods. The sound of the lake lapping the sandy shore drifts in through the screen door on the warm, loamy forest air. A chipmunk scurries about on the wooden deck and beyond that, a solitary fisherman sits in a small aluminum rowing boat on the lake hoping for a rainbow trout for supper. Both will soon move on, leaving you to pursue your purpose in absolute peace and without distraction.
This is the type of setting helpful to contemplating the partnership decision: a decision that could have a profound impact on both your personal life and business life; a decision best reached by a completely frank discussion between you and your inner self.
You’ve bandied about your business model exhaustively, and all that remains is to decide whether you’re going to go it alone or enter into a partnership. It makes no difference if yours is a new business about to be launched or an existing business at a crossroad—the decision requires the same degree of contemplation. Should you retain full ownership and hire the expertise and raise the capital you may not have, or should you trade away partial ownership and control to a partner or partners in exchange for expertise and capital?
This decision should not be made lightly. Unfortunately, it often is. In my experience, most people enter small business partnerships not thinking beyond the assumption that they can make more money in a partnership than alone. Much of what needs to be considered though has nothing to do with numbers and money. Commonly overlooked in business decisions of all kinds, including the question about whether or not to enter into a partnership, are the all-important “emotional” considerations. We’ll explore some of them in a moment.