You’re considering taking on a business partner or launching a new project with someone by your side. You have a person in mind and are ready to give this a go.
Let me stop you there.
Going into business together is a big deal and not something that’s going to be easily undone. This is particularly true if the two of you start a new website together, or even create a corporation together. Before you take that first step, consider testing the waters with a smaller project. Think of it like dating. You do some fun stuff together and see how well you work together.
Keep The Scope Of The Project Small
The most important part for this trial run project is to keep it small. You don’t want to put a lot of time, work, and effort into something only to find out that you don’t really like working with the other person. Do something small together. I’ll give you some ideas further down. A good rule of thumb is something that doesn’t take you more than a full day or two to put together. It’s also helpful to make this something both of you can comfortably work on and complete while keeping your respective other businesses running smoothly.
Set A Short Timeframe for Completion
This is also a great time to judge how well you work together on a deadline. How important is finishing on-time? Is quality of the work more important than making the deadline? While the deadline may be a bit arbitrary it will help you learn more about each other and how you like to work. It will also keep things moving along quickly instead of stretching out indefinitely.
Limit The Time This Project Will Earn Income
If this is a product you’re creating that you’ll be selling together, you want to limit the amount of time it will earn combined income for you. If you each do your own selling on your separate sites, this won’t be an issue. What you don’t want is to do monthly account for years to come on a trial project run that didn’t turn into a long-term business partnership. Agree on an end date if you’re selling and marketing it together. Ideas for that below.
Ideas For Small Time Limited Projects You May Want To Consider
Create a short opt-in style report or ebook together that you can both use as a lead magnet, low-entry level product, or bonus in each of your product funnels.
Make it a limited time offer. Create the product, set up a launch day and create urgency for your buyers by only offering it for a week or two. After this initial sales period, you could each add it as a bonus to your existing product funnel, or completely retire the product.
Instead of creating a product together, run a workshop or a small short-term coaching program. This could be done in person, or virtually. Limit it to 50 people and deliver all content and coaching within a month. Once it’s done, you can both sell recordings, or the product can be completely retired. Of course you can continue to run it occasionally if you both enjoy working together, but aren’t quite ready to become full business partners.
Business Partnership Will Not Be Perfect From Day One
Let’s get real for a moment. A business partnership is like any other close relationship. It takes time and effort to make it work. It won’t be perfect from day one and you will continue to run into disagreements or differences in opinion. You have to be prepared to work on the relationship to make it work. No amount of preparation and “dating” will avoid this. Be ready to continually work on the relationship to make it a fun and productive experience for both of you.
This is particularly true when you’re going through a stressful time. When you’re under pressure to bring a product to market, finances are tight, or something isn’t working out the way you expected, it brings out the worst in us. We are quick to assign blame and jump to conclusions. Good communication is key here. Talk it through and work it out together. Each crisis averted will bring you closer together and make the relationship and the business stronger.
Starting out with someone you have a lot in common is a great start, but that’s not the end of it. Think of a business partnership like a good partnership in your personal life. It takes time to develop it and effort to nurture it. There has to be give and take. Be prepared to consider the other person’s point of view and discuss important (and not so important) issues. Learn to compromise and work on coming up with a plan for moving forward together. Be ready to give in on some issues.
If the going gets tough and you’re afraid you may say the wrong thing, step back and take a breather for a few minutes. Take the afternoon off from the combined project that isn’t going well and clear your head before you start to talk it out. A little distance can bring a lot of clarity and if nothing else it will help you get your emotions under control before you start to work it out.
If you find that there is simply too much to do and not enough time to get it done, consider either extending your deadlines, or hiring some help. If money is tight and you’re worried about your partner spending it on non-essentials, talk about it. Try to see each other’s side and walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. Maybe you’re worried about money because other parts of your business have slowed down or your spouse just lost a well-paying job. Sharing this kind of personal information will help your partner understand where you’re coming from. From there you can work on a mutually agreeable solution.
The more you work together and the better you get to know each other, the easier it will become going forward. After a while you’ll each recognize if something else is going on, one of you feels burnt out, or the other one isn’t happy about something. You each know something’s off and you can do what it takes to work it out. This could mean changing workload or deadlines, telling your partner to take some much deserved time off to relax and recharge, meeting for a brainstorming session to get you on the same page and excited, or working on a new and more fun project for a while. As your relationship strengthens and grows you’ll know what makes the other one tick and what will help in a particular situation. That’s when working as a team really starts to pay off. Being able to rely on your partner and working together to stay motivated and productive is an amazing way to work and grow a business.