Business Partnerships, Pros and Cons

Thinking about forming a business partnership? Here's a list of pros and cons from a 10-year veteran to consider before you make the leap. After 10 years of business with no memorable fights or major disagreements, one might think that I'd be an expert at guiding folks to find the perfect business partner and establishing a solid working relationship.  

Choosing a business partner
Thinking of choosing a business partner? Consider this advice from a 10-year veteran.

Thinking about forming a business partnership? Here’s a list of pros and cons from a 10-year veteran to consider before you make the leap.

After 10 years of business with no memorable fights or major disagreements, one might think that I’d be an expert at guiding folks to find the perfect business partner and establishing a solid working relationship.

Often, however, I feel the answer is simpler than people want to hear: find someone you trust with your life (or, more specifically, your livelihood), and whom you respect enough to represent your professional career when you’re not around.

Obvious, yes? But those people don’t grow on trees. In fact, finding someone who fits the bill is as finding the love of your life. Sadly, while endless books have been written on finding the perfect mate, there’s little advice out there on how to find the right business partner.

So, with my now decade-plus of experience, I’m addressing the topic. Here’s a list of the pros and cons of working with a business partner.


Two hands make lighter work

Having two people responsible for the big picture, and making sure no important balls get dropped makes for an easier run of things. This pro is really a no-brainer, but I’m 10 years into the ownership game and can’t overstate it.

Sure, when you start your business you’re full of energy and vigor for your venture, but over the years there are times that energy wanes, and having a partner as a backup is invaluable. The shared load also means you don’t have to do it all.

Many people seek out partnerships where each partner has a different skill set – one, the creative; the other, the numbers gal – and it’s fantastic to divide and conquer this way. Of course, you can always hire contractors to help with tasks or aren’t in your natural skill set.

Two brains are better than one

Having two perspectives on challenges and another brain to bounce ideas off of has helped me avoid a number of disasters that rash decisions would have created.

Both Lauren and I are, on the surface, similar in our approaches to work. It’s one reason we work so well. But we have some key differences that strengthen our partnership: Lauren loves doing research, where I prefer to skim the bullet points, make a gut decision and move on.

We value these qualities in each other. Though sometimes grudgingly, I’m grateful she slows me down enough to get into the nitty gritty of the important stuff, and I’d dare say that I’ve occasionally saved us some time by pushing her to get on with a decision.

Offload self-care

Self-care and work-life balance are the elusive goals of every entrepreneur I know. And, as we know, the trickiest piece of the puzzle is the “self” part.

It’s easy to keep pushing yourself to the brink in the interests of furthering your business; what’s less easy is to watch someone else being pushed to that same edge. For me, having a business partner has meant being able to look into a mirror (of, really, myself sitting across the office) and saying, “Okay, enough. It’s time for a break.”

Sometimes it means knocking off early after a challenging week. Sometimes it’s taking the time to make big-picture changes to alleviate months of too much strain. Either way, it’s easier to take time out for R&R when you can see how badly your partner needs it too.

Someone always has your back

I’m right now facing a difficulty I didn’t see coming: the thought of leaving my newborn baby with a stranger so I that can return to work. I should have known the challenge this would present, because for years the thought of relaxing control over the business has made me squeamish.

Fortunately for me, this is where the partner comes in. It’s gratifying to take time with my baby while resting assured that Lauren’s around to mind the store.


Ok, I’ll admit it: I’m having trouble with coming up with a list of cons. For the past 10 years I’ve enjoyed an awesome business partnership. That said, I’ve got a few points those of you considering a business partnership should consider.

You won’t always get your own way

It’s really easy, as entrepreneurs, to believe that your way is the best way. In fact, many of us got into business, because we were pretty convinced tof this, and, if your business is successful, you have ample support of that view.

But no one is right all of the time, and having a business partner to whom you have to justify your reasoning is a great way to make sure you’re making decisions soundly and not just because you like the sound of your own ideas.

You may grow apart

Like even the best of marriages and other life partnerships, you may not always find yourself heading in the same direction as your business partner, even if you started off in exactly the same place.

In our 10 years, I’ve gone from a basement-suite-renting, student-loan-paying single gal to a home-owning, baby-toting stepmom in a long-term relationship. All of your business decisions are affected by your circumstances – and those circumstances can change a lot. 

While our business partnership remains strong, it’s possible that I’ll want or need out of the business somewhere along the way. This is natural. Exit strategies should be part of your partnership agreement from the beginning.

You have to share the wealth

Entrepreneurial expect to make money. But with more than one person at the top you have to divide the dividends when they do come in. The flipside, of course, is that you share the risk.

Running a business with more than one partner also adds to your expenses. Partners rightfully expect to be paid more than other staff. The higher salaries and perks for the partners should cause you to consider how many partners you want for your business.

What about those cases where things go horribly wrong between partners? No one enters a business partnership planning to dissolve that relationship and it’s easy to push legal questions aside when you’re in the exciting and energetic days of establishing a business, but don’t let this fall off your to-do list.

There is no better time to write a partnership agreement than when you and your soon to be partner are getting along well. If the idea of discussing separation of assets, exit strategies and what to do in the event of a falling out is too stressful or upsetting for you in these the heady days of your business partnership then frankly, you’re not ready to be business partners.