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Is A Business Partnership Right For You?

"I then asked each of them what the perfect business would look like? Each shared their vision for what they wanted for the business, and it quickly became apparent that they were all very different!"

I want to preface this by saying I had a very successful business partnership for 26 years. Although not without some challenges along the way.

I have worked with companies that have also had successful partnerships, but I have also worked with some that are facing challenges.

Early on in my coaching practise I met three incredible women that had decided they wanted to go into business together. These ladies had not known each other for long but their interests brought them together. Very quickly they started on a partnership journey. I was asked by one of the partners if I could partner with them as they were needing some guidance and help as they moved forward. They had already registered their business and they were negotiating a 5 year lease (but thankfully they had not signed the agreement). Each of these women had a talent that they brought to the business but the fact that they all saw the business model so differently raised some concerns.

During one of our one-on-one meetings, one of the questions I asked was:

"What are three things you absolutely want for your business, and what are three things you absolutely do not want for your business."

I then asked each of them what the perfect business would look like? Each shared their vision for what they wanted for the business, and it quickly became apparent that they were all very different! When we met as a team and reviewed their vision for the business, and I shared the results of our one-on-one meetings, they were very surprised and disappointed to hear that they were on such different paths for the same business.

We continued to meet regularly so that they could see if they could come up with a plan that would work for all three of them, but ultimately they decided that their goals and visions were too far apart and the decision was made to dissolve the partnership.

This was probably the hardest decision they had to make; their dreams were shattered but they each knew that this was the best decision.

If you are thinking of going into a partnership, choose your partner(s) carefully! Ask some of the following when considering a partnership:

  • Do you share the same core values?

  • Do you share the same work ethic?

  • Do you have the same dreams, goals and vision for your new business?

  • Does your partner(s) want to lease a 3,000 sq.ft space for a restaurant when you want a food truck?

  • What skills do each of you bring to the table (think technical and behavioural). Do you have complementary skills or similar ones? Having different but complementary skills will double the power of your startup.

  • Have you and your partner(s) known each other for some time and do you have a track record? Are you friends, family, or previous business associates? A good choice in a partner would be someone you’ve handled conflicts with, achieved a common goal with, or survived tough times with.

Clearly define each partner’s role and responsibilities. Defining each partners job title and duties helps eliminate future disagreements by giving each partner control and autonomy over their area. The staff and clients will also benefit from knowing who oversees what areas.

Even If you are starting your business with family or a close friend you should have legal documentation drawn up for your business regarding the structure, financial contributions, and how any disputes will be resolved including dissolving the partnership. This is a hard step when you are excited about the future possibilities, but it is an essential step in the partnership process.

Finally, lay the foundation for your partnership. Be open and honest with each other right from the beginning. Share your opinions and work through any disagreements that may arise. Not communicating can lead to bitterness and resentment which can destroy your partnership and your business.


Anna Harrison, CPBC, CPLD

Anna Harrison is a successful entrepreneur with a strong background in business and leadership.

For 32 years Anna owned and operated Genesis Fashion and Beauty Complex, a multi-faceted business that included a salon, day spa, and fashion boutique. Her leadership success is evident in the fact that many of her team stayed with the company for over 25 years. After selling her business, Anna transitioned to working with business owners and individuals, partnering with them to achieve greater success in their business and personal lives.

Anna has been recognized in the community and has won a number of awards, both personally and professionally, some of which are Chamber of Commerce – Business of the Year, Chamber of Commerce finalist – Business Person of the Year, Business and Professional Women’s Club – Woman of the Year, RBC finalist – Women Entrepreneur of the Year, Rotarian of the Year, and KTW Reader’s Choice awards for coaching and consulting.

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