The Value of Partnerships

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on June 25, 2010

For entrepreneurs looking to build a new business or expand an existing one, a strong partner can be key. For a company such as a consumer product business seeking to launch products into a new industry sector, partnering with a company already integrated into that sector’s channels of distribution can make market entry easier and more realistic to achieve.

In the late 1990s, a colleague of mine developed an idea for a new business he wanted to launch. He had experienced failure in a prior startup and felt I had the right complement of skills to fill in where he had gaps. We worked together for several months, developing and refining the business concept and crafting the business plan. But we were not yet partners; we were simply working together.

Over time, we saw how well we worked together and confirmed that our skills complemented each other’s well. And we came to see how each of us made specific contributions toward getting the business idea funded. Over time, we continued to refine how we defined our respective roles, and through mutual agreement, my role grew to be that of chief operating officer. We had become partners, and as partners we were successful in raising venture capital to launch the business. We built it up to a 36-person company with offices in four cities over three years.

As you work with others who may be able to help you build your business, consider these questions before inking any partnership deals:

1. Are your skill sets truly complementary? Do you support each other’s weaknesses well?

2. Are your working styles compatible? Importantly, do you enjoy working together?

3. Are your business and personal philosophies similar? Do you both want the same things out of your venture?

Barry Horwitz
President
Horwitz & Co.
Boston

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