What makes a business partnership succeed or fail?

For those who have experience owning and running your business with a partner, how has it gone for you?

And no, I’m not talking about partnering with on a one-off deal. I’m talking about owning an entire business entity along with another person, so that ALL of the profits from your business are divided with that person, and ALL of your business tasks are divided up between yourself and that other individual(s).

I’ve always been apprehensive about owning a business jointly with another person, because it’s such a big commitment and I don’t know if I trust anyone well enough to share so many big responsibilities.

At the same time, I can’t help but wonder how many great opportunities I’ve walked away from because of my unwillingness to join forces with another talented person who may be stronger in areas where I am weak.

If anyone out there has had a successful partnership, what made it work?

And for those who have had an unsuccessful partnership, what made it fail?

I tried this one time. In hindsight, the whole thing was doomed to fail from day one (of course, it always seems obvious in hindsight, but I thought it was a brilliant idea when we started out).

Me and 4 other land investors had the idea of gathering leads and selling them to other investors who had the cash to buy them. The idea itself wasn’t terrible, but there were certain challenges we didn’t realize we’d have to deal with until we got into it.

It also didn’t help that only 2 of the 5 partners (me and one other person) did 98% of the work, while the others “visionaries” didn’t contribute anything to the actual tasks we had to do. We weren’t clear enough about what each person was expected to do. As a result, the worker bee personalities naturally fell into the role of doing everything.

Anyway… I’m not saying it can’t work, but the more partners you add into the mix, the more complicated it will get, especially if those individuals aren’t willing to contribute. Two business partners is kind of like a marriage. You’ll rely on each other to hold up their end and there are similar highs and lows, and for every new person you add, there are new sets of responsibilities and expectations to uphold.

I don’t think you are missing out on anything @mattpayne. For every success story you hear about a partnership working out, there are a lot more unsung stories of partnerships that don’t. And for many of those that don’t, the financial situation and personal relationships are left in ruins.

I’m probably painting a bleaker picture than I need to here, I’m sure it’s not always that bad, but my point is, you can accomplish a lot on your own too. And having a co-owned business isn’t the only way to get the money or talent that you need. You could hire someone instead of making them your partner. Or set up some kind of profit share maybe?