Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Business partners may be the death or salvation of your business so do you really need one?
We are often pressured to think that business partners are the best thing possible but are they? Well, it depends on your personal preference and whether you think you could benefit from taking on a business partner.
Let us explain further business partners should fulfil a specific and complex role much like you they will be a cofounder and the bedrock of your business. Don't get me wrong business partners can be very useful but get them at your own risk because not everyone will be like you, most people that you may consider to be a good business partner will be simply inadequate and incompetent. Because it's your business, your idea, your baby you cannot expect everyone to be as passionate about the business as you are, they will not be as motivated to perform to the best possible standard for years on end and if its not the exact thing that they want to be doing then even though they may seem a perfect partner you cannot expect them to work hard for years towards a dream that they do not share. You must make sure when you take on a business partner that all of you share the same dream and that all of you are equally committed otherwise some may fail to pull their weight.
There is another problem with this because dreams change and motivation levels wane so you can never be certain that something will not change and even if your business partner shared your dream in the beginning and was very motivated to work very hard, you can never know whether at some point it the future it will change and they decide that starting a business was a bad decision.
we often fall under the illusion that business partners are free when they are not they are probably the most expensive person you will ever take on to your business because if you're just starting then they might want as much as a 50% stake so you start at half ownership. This means that taking this person on just cost you half of all of your future earnings, half of the whole future business. You have to decide whether that person will bring in more value than half of your business. That depends on you because sometimes without that person the business would not exist in the first place but if they are not necessary then would it not be cheaper to just take on an employee and forget the idea of a business partnership.
Those are the costs and risks but there also are many positives to having a business partner that may be key to your success.
As a first, before I said that they will most likely be the most expensive person you ever take on but that is only the case if you succeed in the beginning a cofounder will be the cheapest employee you could ever have, because, you would never expect an employee to work an 80 hour work week for free but a founder is a different scenario. let's not forget that even though they may be very expensive in the long term their input, in the beginning, may be essential to take the business of the ground in the first place.
Two they bring expertise and skills that you don't have ( if they don't have any skills that you don't also have then I have no idea why you have a business partner). Why is this important? well, in the beginning, you will know only a tiny sliver of what you should actually know to have a successful business and that's okay everybody starts off that way, what you will have to do is simply learn everything you need to know, but having a business partner who already knows some of the things that you don't then it will bring you closer to knowing everything you need and it will help you bet the business of the ground faster. it's only a bit of time but why is this bit of time so important? Because how long can your business survive without turning a profit how long will your starting budget last, How much time do you have before you have to find yourself a job and forget your business because you have run out of money to live on or even how long do you think your motivation will last if your business does not produce any results. That's why this time is so important by not taking on a business partner you are increasing the risk of your business never taking off the ground and failing before it had the chance of success.
Thirdly if you are working alone on a project without a deadline it is very easy to get distracted and let your motivation fall. That's the primary reason why most businesses fail they never get started properly. Having a cofounder could help you prevent that as they will motivate you to continue working when it seems pointless and when you just don't feel like it. it is also very easy to fall for the shiny object syndrome when you're just starting because when you're not yet ingrained in a particular business and you're still exploring all your opportunities it is very easy to over explore and fall for the shiny object syndrome. What do I mean by this? I mean that you have to find yourself one spot and dig deep many people just skim off the surface of every new business idea and they never commit and years go by and they have tried starting a hundred different businesses but never actually took the time to start any of them. People have a habit of stopping at the first sign of trouble at the first pushback and that's wrong you should get over or go round the problem not just run away and say I'll start something different because that doesn't work a founder may help you get over the adversities because their business is on the line too, their saving and their hard work so the may be keen to continue working on the business and thereby almost forcing you to do the same.
Conclusively business partners can save your business by providing you with their expertise and motivating you to work as hard a possible or they may kill the business if the two of you fall out, argue and want to take the business in different directions. So you have to decide which risks you want to take on if you want to rely on your own skills and motivation or if you want a business partner to help you but in return, you rely on your relationship to stay strong. And finally, you have to decide whether the things that your business partner can provide are worth half the business. If the business would not succeed without a partner then, of course, you should take one but if you can make it on your own then you have to decide whether a business partner is worth it.