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The Partner Track

How to decide if you should fly solo or not: the second in a two-part series on business partnerships
July 14, 2005

Business partners, like parents and spouses, are rarely perfect. The acid test of a good business partnership is whether each partner feels better off with the partnership than without it. That requires each partner to perceive the business as a success and to regard the contributions of his or her partners as critical to that success. Only embark on a business partnership that promises to pass the test. If you or your partners feel that you're better off going it alone, eventually you will. Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating a potential partnership:

The importance of trust is obvious: You'd never go into business with partners whose honesty and integrity you questioned. But transparency in business processes is also critical. You and your partners may have discussed and agreed on critical matters involving pricing, contract language, budgets, expense accounts and the like, but the temptation to effect self-serving change at the margin are always present. The most effective way to prevent this behavior and the conflicts they can lead to is to ensure that the decisions of all partners are as transparent as possible. On a practical level, this means ensuring that critical business documents and data are continuously updated and available for easy inspection by all partners.