Thinking of starting a new business? Are you at a point in your business where you feel you want to expand or take it to a higher level? If you're considering whether you want to move forward on your own or bring in a partner, it's important to examine the pros and cons of both options.

Before considering whether to partner or go it alone, the most imperative step is to have an honest conversation with yourself and create as clear of a vision of what you're looking to achieve in your business.

Questions to consider before seeking out a partnership:
- Do you feel you lack specific skills, experience or knowledge in certain areas of the business where the right partner could complement your strengths and weaknesses?

- What is your long-term vision of the business? Is it advantageous to have the right partner who may be able to help you realize that vision more quickly than if you were to do it on your own?

- What is your experience with working with others, i.e. on special projects or agreements? What was the outcome and your general feeling about working with others? Do you generally enter into a relationship skeptical or do you generally trust the other person (provided you've vetted them accordingly)?

- What is your leadership and communication personality? If your business has or will have employees, how do you envision your role as a leader and how could having a partner impact this dynamic (positively and/or negatively)?

- Do you want to be the face/voice of the business? Would you want a partner who shares this role or is more of a "silent" partner in the background of the business?

- If you're exploring a partnership for financial reasons, how much, if any, of the day-to-day business operations are you willing to share with the partner? These are parameters that will need to be made very clear from the outset.

- Are you ready to commit to a partnership as if it's a marriage; ready to face the potential (and likely inevitable) challenges of disagreements, differing communication styles, different priorities, etc.?

- When considering a specific partner, what are the potential consequences (i.e. personal relationship at stake, etc.) if the partnership doesn't work out?

Take time to seek out opinions, feedback and experiences of other entrepreneurs who are in successful partnerships as well as those who may have an experience where a partnership turned out to not work. Ask them the tough questions like what would they do differently; what are the most challenging aspects of partnership; how do they make it work on a daily basis and in the bigger picture; how did they structure their partnership agreement; what are the pitfalls and what are the benefits; what makes their partnership work (or what is the reason why it didn't work).

There are many ways to structure a partnership; it doesn't always mean everything is 50/50. Don't think you're cutout for a partnership? Look to hire people who can fill gaps in your business so you still have the support necessary to run a vibrant, lasting business. Most importantly, a partnership needs to "feel right;" listen to your gut – it's usually right.


How much of your time would you estimate you spend growing your business?