Starting a business with a partner? 5 conversations to have before getting started

DSC00195-2-Sqaure
By Stephanie Cartin

Courtney and I get asked all of the time how we have been able to make our business partnership thrive over the past 10 years. We have had so many learning lessons over the years and there are many things we wished we knew when we were first starting out on our journey as partners, so we wanted to be sure to share them with you.

If you’re starting a business with a partner, here are 5 things to think about or have conversations around getting started so that you are set up for success:

Align on a vision

Make sure you and your partner are aligned on what the ultimate vision is for your company. Have conversations up front about what success will look like for you individually and together. You’ll want to discuss where you each see your business in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, and beyond. Think in advance about the future of the company – do you ultimately want to sell your business, or are you building a business together that you will want to hold onto for years to come? You may not have all of the answers on day one, but you want to be sure that your vision is aligned.

Be sure to also discuss the financial aspect of the business – determine what you’ll each be taking as salary and how much profit you’ll want to put back into the business to grow it. Many times, not seeing eye to eye on how much to reinvest in the business can cause a major conflict and its important to be aligned on how much you want to reinvest each year.

Clearly define roles and responsibilities

Something that has truly helped us in our partnership over the years is that we have complementary skill sets and we were able to divide and conquer our responsibilities in the beginning when launching our first company. Create a Founder job description for each of you and determine what you will each focus on. While there will be things that you will have to do together, try to clearly identify where your strengths are and what you will each be doing.

As the business grows, review what you are each doing every year and determine if the responsibilities are divided fairly based on what your equity splits are and have open conversations about that.

Create an operating agreement for your company

Having a business with a partner is like a marriage. There are legal documents that go along with any partnership and it is important to set up an operating agreement when you are starting your business. The agreement will outline how the operations of the business will be governed, and together you will need to make decisions about many of the “what ifs” for the future of the business. Be sure to invest in a great business attorney who can work with you to create an operating agreement that works for your business(es). 

Have tough conversations up front

It’s important to think about the “what if”s that may happen in life and in business before you get started. You will benefit from talking through what may happen if something happens to one of you, or if someone decides that they do not want to be part of the business anymore. It could be a conversation about how you will manage the business if one person has a baby and needs time off or if one of you gets sick. Talk about how you both would want to handle these situations up front so when or if these things do happen you have already determined the steps you’ll need to take. Some of this may be included in your operating agreement, but you should be able to have these conversations with your partner on a continual basis. 

Hire a business coach

One of the best things we did when we started our first business was hire and invest in working with a business coach. We often refer to her jokingly as our “marriage counselor” as she helped us navigate conflicts and tough times. Our business coach also helped us stay aligned as we’ve navigated running different parts of the businesses we’ve developed over the years and has helped us realized that it’s important both partners have the same priorities. Another benefit of working with a business coach when you have a business partner is you have a built in third party to help you think through decisions you’re faced with as they come.

Enjoyed these tips, and interested in learning more? Join the Entreprenista League!

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





Founder Geisha Garcia on the Evolution of GG Communications

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Geisha Garcia is the Founder of GG Communications, LLC—a digital marketing agency dedicated to elevating the digital presence of ambitious female-led brands through proven digital marketing strategies, as well as advancing the profession of social media through mentorship and education of social media professionals. What…

Cecile Rothschild on the Importance of Family and Close Relationships while Launching Your Own Business

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Create and Associates is a branding, communications, and design firm. With boundless creativity, imagination, and a dedication to strategic thinking, we build brands that cut through the clutter—and unlock success for my clients. We bring together emotion, art, and rigor to design brand experiences that…

Melissa Wallace, CEO and Co-Founder, on Balance, Trust, and Celebration

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I am the CEO and Co-founder of fivefoottwo marketing, an agency dedicated to early-stage, VC-backed startups. When launching fivefoottwo, we were meeting so many female founders who needed our services but struggled to receive funding. So we started giving them our services for free, which…

Contemporary Artist and Small Business Owner, Leah Devora, on Following Your Instinct

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I created original, custom art with a contemporary edge for businesses and private clients. My site showcases my art. What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member? Meeting dynamic, interesting, and creative women and building a support network. What made you take the leap…

LEO + LAINE’s Lynzee Krohne’s Tips for Teamwork and Embracing all Aspects of your Business

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Lynzee is the CEO and Founder of LEO + LAINE, and also serves as the Lead Creative Director. In her role, Lynzee manages the day-to-day business operations, and also works closely with the team to strategize, ideate and develop content for local and national clients.…

Kim Bennett of AtlasGuru on Building a Business based on Her Passion and Past Skillset

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: AtlasGuru is a publishing platform for travelers to share their itineraries and travel stories. Before starting AtlasGuru, I spent 15+ years in marketing in New York City and Seattle for lifestyle and consumer companies including Conde Nast, Martha Stewart, Amazon, and Nordstrom. What excites you…

Devika Chand Dandona on Sucess having a Strong Voice while Starting The Devi Collection

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m a wife, mom of 3 humans and 2 fur babies, and am an all-around creative. I have an investment company that focuses on brands and startups. My current portfolio has brands in the clean beauty, sustainable fashion, tech, and wellness spaces. I have been…

How Coach and Consultant Sarai Tave’s Personal Healing Journey Sparked Moonlight Devi

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: My name is Sarai Tave. I am 35 years old, a single mom, and the owner of Moonlight Devi and The Singles Network by Moonlight Devi. I am a singles and couples coach, image consultant, and Thetahealing therapist. I help single people break thru their…

Decorating Dream’s Midge Fuller’s Desire to “Go All In” on Her Business

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I am an interior designer, and I launched Decorating Dreams, which will help my clients see the potential in their homes by guiding them through the process. What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member? I am excited to work with Entreprenista because I…

Work-Life Balance and Scaling Your Business with Marketing-Led Business Coach Katrina Aronson

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Katrina Aronson is THE Marketing-Led Business Coach, blending her background in small business marketing and psychology to help creative business owners to get out of their way and see massive shifts. With simple and scalable marketing strategies as her super power, she has grown two…

Fintech Queen, Heather Doyle of CoinQueens, on How to Manage Expectations and Crypto Empowerment

What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member? I am excited to connect with women who have had success in web2. I hope to onboard and empower them in web3 through education, investing, and networking. Women are typically not the leading demographic in nascent fintech markets, and CoinQueens is determined to change that in…

CoFounder of ExExperts, T.H. Irwin, on the Importance of Focus and Goal-Setting

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: My best friend and I divorced at the same time (drama and cheating ex-husbands), and we had one another leading up to it, during the process, and for everything after. We started the “exEXPERTS and Divorce etc…” podcast to help people in the same way…

Ex-Corporate Ad Pro Kaitlin Villatoro Highlights her Decisions and Insights around Diving into a New Entrepreneurial Path

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m an ex-corporate ad pro, with 11 years of working with top Fortune 500 brands like Apple, Disney, and Corona. Motivated by the desire to be more present for my family and a demanding IVF journey, I left my corporate career to start my own…

Former Fortune 200 Executive, Chris Holter, on the Importance of Welcoming Personal Transformation when Launching your Own Business

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: Hello – I am Chris – A former global fortune 200 Executive turned lifestyle entrepreneur, trusted advisor, international speaker, and executive coach. I founded Chris Holter Consulting in 2020. I know firsthand what it is like to be building a business, the challenges you face,…

Beauty and Fragrance Consultant Emilie Mascarell on leveraging past experiences to launch your dream line

Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business: I’m a fragrance and beauty product development consultant. I launched Emilie Consulting to help companies develop fragrances, candles, and skin care products including product strategy, sourcing, formula and packaging development, testing, vendors relationship, negotiations, production support, and everything until release on the market. What excites…