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Two's Company Is your dynamic duo likely to become an explosive one? Before jumping into a business partnership, ask yourself these 7 key questions.

By Geoff Williams

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's a brutal world out there. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to have a friend. After all, where would Bud Abbott have been without Lou Costello? Sonny without Cher? Peanut butter without jelly? You get the point. It helps to have a partner, and at no other time is that more true than when starting a business.

But having a partner can also be disastrous. Abbott and Costello, the famous comedy duo from the 1940s and '50s, ultimately split up their act after years of jealousy and bickering. Sonny and Cher divorced, and peanut butter made alliances with chocolate. More seriously, look at the disastrous mergers of Time Warner and AOL, and Daimler and Chrysler. There's a reason that, according to, more than 72 percent of small businesses are sole proprietorships while only 6 percent are partnerships. Corporate history is riddled with the corpses of failed partnerships, famous and obscure. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you do your homework and truly find the answers to these seven crucial questions, you and your partner can be the next Ben and Jerry.

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