The Post-Launch Partnership

business partnership

Martin and Lewis, once partners

I recently met with three other business owners to discuss best practices in partnerships.  We could have simply read a book on the subject (such as The Partnership Charter by David Gage), but the primary focus of the meeting was on the situation of one of the participants.  He was thinking about bringing a partner into the business he founded seven years ago.  The other two participants had partnership experience.

We came up with a short list of imperatives for successfully bringing a partner into an ongoing business.

  1. Discuss each partner’s vision for the business, and make sure those visions are compatible.
  2. In addition to reviewing the current business plan and related financial projections, be sure to agree on what will happen if the worst case scenario materializes.
  3. Begin the relationship as employer/employee, with a clear path for the employee to earn or buy an ownership stake in the business.

We recognized that there are many other aspects of a partnership that need to be covered in the legally binding partnership agreement.  But we concluded that the above three concepts were absolutely critical to the long-term success of a partnership created after the founding of a business.

3 responses to “The Post-Launch Partnership

  1. This was a great exercise and I learned a lot from the experience. These types of small group, intensive discussions on a particular topic related to a business may be a new service area. Thanks for the opportunity to participate.

  2. This may be implied in your post, but I believe that it is also imperative to understand and agree on what incremental value the new partner is expected to bring. In other words, why a partnership instead of a collaboration?

  3. Good post. I’m working with a husband/wife team who are bringing on another husband/wife team to form a new partnership. One of the things we’re doing is establishing the protocol for their weekly senior staff meetings and quarterly Board meetings. At the staff meeting, each one of them will report to the others on progress made in their area of responsibility and on the initiatives they own. At the board meetings they take a longer-term look at how the partnership is doing and discuss strategic direction, etc.

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