As we shake hands celebrating our new partnership, we know it will succeed. Yet, as half of all marriages fail, are the odds of a business partnership success any different? Just as we enter in to a marriage contract to share our lives; do we not have the same expectations of our business partnership?
In our society, with a fifty- percent divorce rate, it is wise to think of pre-nuptial agreements. Yet, before the ceremony, many of us hesitate to ask for a contract as such a request suggests the lack of trust. Nevertheless, we do it. And, half of us are glad we did.
I believe all business partnerships need a pre-nuptial agreement. Such relationships can be complex with such thorny issues as: How do you share the workload? How do you split the profits? Do you have similar goals? What happens if the business fails? And if it does go sour- it can be as painful as divorce with similar feelings of anger, disappoint injustice, and deception.
In the business world, some think a handshake is a macho and romantic way of doing business. While such arrangements are great theater, in real life they are stupid and risky. Just as in marriage, misunderstandings are common. Are you aware that success may create more problems than failure? Money affects our behavior. Do you know how you will react to making or losing it?
Thus, if you are going into business with a partner-before you open the doors, get a written agreement. And, if you are in business, perhaps it is not too late to sit down with your partner and draft an agreement. Here are four major points that I advise you to include:
It is my experience, that once an agreement is in place, everyone feels better. You will have removed much of the possibility of unpleasant surprises from a relationship of loose ends to one of definition with a specific understanding of your relationship to each other.
Although, contracts and agreements may work to protect our interests, we can learn from Aristotle, who saw harmonious relationships as critical to well being. He concluded that successful partnerships are a basis of living well. Let me leave you with: Who you select to be in business with is as important as selecting the business to be in.