Dear M & M: I want to take on a partner. What do I need to do? –Tom
The first question one must ask is; what are they bringing to the table? Do they have expertise, money, connections or a contract already in place? Sometimes we are afraid to go it alone and think it is easier to jump off the cliff if someone else is willing to take the risk of failure or possible success with us. At a minimum understand and know why you think you need a partner.
There is nothing wrong with taking one on. We all know two heads should be smarter than one. However, taking on a partner might not allow you to be the decision maker on everything you do. Maybe you just need a loan, not a partner. Do not form a partnership until you officially draft and draw up a partnership agreement. Do not try and do this alone.
Get professional help from an attorney that works in this area. Some things you should include; who does what, for how long, when do they do it and how much do they get paid. Other things to include how much does each partner invest, who puts in more money if it is needed, how much can they put in if you need more, and what happens when one of the partners decides they do not want to do this anymore.
Hopefully, the partner has competencies in areas you are lacking. You might not know anything about international sales, online sales, accounting, marketing or they own the building you want to set up in. Remember, you will be working with this person very closely. Do you get along? Is this someone you would like to do business with as a customer?
Maybe they have a strong following and will bring alone some existing customers they already have. Be cautious, is this person so critical to the organization you might have difficulty running the company if they go away? There are good and bad partnerships. Planning, communication and getting it in writing is the only way to get into a partnership with anyone. Go in with both eyes wide open.