6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Forge A Partnership

by Thérèse Cator

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Partnerships are extremely powerful.

In this case, I’m not talking about power couples like Brad and Angelina or Michelle and Barack, I’m talking about powerful business partnerships.

Think of Bill Hewlett and David Packard (HP), Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream), and Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google).

Those partnerships have changed the world and prove that two brains are sometimes better than one.

It’s great to work with someone who has your back, shares the same values and is willing to dig as deep as you are.

Having partnered with some very talented and creative folks these are the 6 essential questions you can ask yourself before you set out on your new partnerships.

1.  Are you both committed?

When you’re starting a new venture commitment is key.  There will be ups and downs and this is what will get you through them.  If you are both committed to your new project that is a sure sign to go ahead.  Remember also commitment shows up in actions, so if a person is saying one thing and doing another take it as a sign.

2.  Who owns what?

This is the first thing you need to figure out.  Will it be a 50/50 split or not?  Financial ickyness is what can break even the best partnerships, so this is important to figure out.  Also talk about what would happen if one of you had to step away.  Life is full of surprises so you want to be sure you know what would happen if one of you were to get ill or wants to stop being an active part of the business etc.

3.  What are your responsibilities?

If you’re great at writing sales copy and your partner is a tech wiz then that may just be a match made in heaven.  You have to be crystal clear about what talents are being brought to the table.  Furthermore, if one person is doing a significant amount more then be sure that you both are aware of it.  There’s nothing worse then feeling taken advantage of if you’re bringing a lot to the table and your partner is slacking.  Everyone should equally be contributing their talents and gifts.

4.  How will you deal with conflicts?

Disagreements are bound to come up when you are working with other people.  That really is the beauty of it.  Everyone will be stretched outside of their comfort zone and that’s a wonderful thing.  However, it’s how you both deal with conflicts that will be the deciding factor to a lasting union.  If your partner shuts down when conflicts arise, or you are unable to track them down then it shows an inability to deal with conflicts in a mature way.  Also be sure to give your partners breathing room to reflect on the issue.  Not everything has to be handled on the spot.

5.  Can you admit when you’re wrong?

Being able to say, “I’m sorry” is just as important as figuring out the financials.  Being able to admit you did something wrong is absolutely critical in healthy partnerships.

6.  Are you partnering because of fear?

This is a big one.  A lot of people jump into partnerships because they’re afraid of going out on their own.  They may lack the belief that they can do it.  Bringing on a partner for that reason spells trouble.  The partnership will surely crumble because it comes from a place of fear.  Ask yourself if you really want to partner with anyone.  If your idea is fully formed examine exactly why you’re partnering with someone to begin with and be honest with yourself.

What other questions do you ask yourself before you partner with others?  Share them below in the comments.  Please also be sure to share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!  Thank you!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy Noel Johnson June 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Good information Therese. I’ve learned that good partnerships also must be made with those who excel in the area they are going to own. In the past, I’ve made the mistake of partnering when someone made something sound good, but in the end, wasn’t qualified to do what they were doing…


Thérèse & Therese June 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Hi Jeremy, Thank you for your comment.  That’s a very valid point that you made!  Basically it’s about seeing a track record and going with your intuition b/c that never ever lies.


Donna Maria Coles Johnson June 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm

This is a fantastic reminder of some critical points most people don’t think about. It’s great to be excited about a new project, but if you don’t work out these kinds of details on the front end, you miss out on the fruits of any labor you put in. Everyone has to know up front who owns what and who is responsible for what. Accountability is crucial. I’m in business with my husband and these are not always easy issues to deal with, but they are so vital. Thank you for sharing.


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