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As I said, I have my hands full with several projects. It just seems that I either lose interest in them before completion, or I get overwhelmed by them and they sit on the shelf uncompleted. The few that I do complete tend to sit there without any kind of promotion or link building, and thusly rot into nothing.
I've had a few different business partners over the years, but those relationships tended to erode rather quickly for a variety of reasons. Either one of us was doing all the work, or we would constantly clash over the direction of a project, etc. I've not even talked to another soul IRL about a project in almost two years.
My skills are focused more on the back end operations, and I know if I could find a partner with complimenting graphics and basic design skills we could make some exciting projects. I'm just afraid to put an ad in the local paper looking for a business partner because I'm afraid I'll end up regretting it.
Have any of you partnered up with a complete stranger who had a complimenting skillset? Did it work out? What problems have you run into? What kind of paperwork agreements did you make before you partnered up?
This partnership started out initially between myself and "Dave". We've been good friends for a few years, seem to see things in the same way, and developed a strong trust in each other. With "Dave" being a business-minded person, and me with my ideas, we needed a third-person to provide the programming work.
We looked for someone who not only had programming skills, but also shared an interest in the same niche that this website was focusing on. We had to monitor several message boards, and it took about 18 months until we found someone that matched.
We approached "Sheila" with the idea, and she was open to it. We offered to pay all of the costs up until the website was able to earn more money than its recurring expenses. At which point, we split the profits three ways. The fact that "Sheila" was already well versed in this particular niche, helped because she could easily see that this website idea would work.
There was no paperwork, no written agreements, and no formal corporation formed. It was all based on trust. I think it worked out, because we offered to pay all the costs, up until the website became profitable. In addition, "Sheila" did not work on this full time, she did it on her spare time. Hence, there was very little risk for her.
Since then, this website has been running for three years, and it continues to provide us with an abundance of money each month. Even more, we designed it in such a way that it is 100% user-maintained. Hence, we just leave it alone, and let our users maintain it. We just sit back and count the money. This was also a key selling-point for "Sheila", because no way would she want to maintain this regularly.
So, I think those are some of the reasons why this partnership worked, without signatures and formalities, even though it took a long time to develop.
In terms of finding a business partner, I would suggest going to your town's Chamber of Commerce, and joining. Membership fees are usually $100 to $200 a year. Anyone can join, even non-business owners. Then, attend their monthly luncheons and mixers, and mingle with people. These meetings are filled with entrepreneurial types, eager to make some money.
Unfortunately I don't have any acquaintances with an interest in this type of thing. I considered hanging around one of the colleges in the area or putting up fliers, but I'm afraid I would run into a lot of "interested" people rather than serious people.
Joining the chamber of commerce sounds like a great idea -- I wasn't aware you could do so if you weren't at least a DBA. I'll definitely look into that.
If you can send someone a LOT of work they may be willing to give you a "wholesale" rate and you just mark up their labor to the client.
You need to have them sign and agreement to spell out the terms of what the subcontractors can and cannot do with your clients, particularly quoting additional work, prices, discussing the terms of your relationship with the client, or doing any work directly for your clients for up to 12 months after the severance of your relationship.
It is human to trust partners for their capabilities and performance issues, and to an extent, you can adjust and allow work slakness also, but till an extent.
I think its better to either have a 'project based partner' or a worker.
I dont think i am looking for a partner for my business in this life. it pains ...
The key lesson I've learned is to never assume that a person will be a great partner based on pre-partnership discussions. I've had multiple situations where individuals had the right skill set and seeming willingness to work, but flamed out early in the game.
I'd avoid partnerships if possible, unless you are confident that the individual is bringing key skills to the table that you lack, and that they would make a good long-term partner. Even then, structure their ownership and compensation in a way that grants them their stake only as they achieve milestones. It really works...
I met the fellow I work with at a local event, and at that time began selling him my own unique products. As time went on I was able to convince him that his current webmaster was falling short, so I migrated into that position. That was 2 years ago. Now I'm the full-time webmaster and my own unique products are no longer made or sold. I'm not a partner, nor am I an associate. I'm just a friend who happens to know a bit about computers, web sites (thanks to WW), and programming. He's the luckiest guy on the block, and I'm happy most of the time.
What makes partnerships impossible is the ever-evolving nature of the people involved. All people change no matter who they are - friends, relatives, strangers, etc. Even if a partnership starts well, it is only a matter of time untilÖ.. ka-boom!
Just as you said:
It just seems that I either lose interest in them before completion, or I get overwhelmed by them and they sit on the shelf uncompleted.
Successful businesses are based on creative thought, execution, desire, and tremendous motivation. Those are all very powerful things that simply cannot co-exist across the plain of human interaction for any sustained period of time.
Iím sorry guys/girls. I think I just got a little mushy ;)
It's better to make a distant relationship much stronger through "outsourcing" as Frost & Sullivan IT Consulting Analyst Jarad Carleton states ďOutsourcing is a continuous process where a conducive environment having a free-flow of information between the home office and offshore staff is critical to avoid cost overruns and project delays,".
- overseas outsourcing can be tricky if the person you're hiring does not fulfill time or development issues. They can 'disappear' easier than someone who is more local to you when you most need them and leave you in a tight situation.
- partnering with someone whom you may rely on heavily to provide for what you are lacking can also be tricky, as per human reasons above mentioned as well as professional; in the beginning they may also be heavily reliant on you, but depending which course the relationship and project takes, that dependency may change.
In saying that, if you do require other people to help you out on projects, take the risk but keep your eyes open.
Agreed though that partners do give you an interest back in a stale project.
If you don't have the spending cash for the designer maybe sell a post-sandbox site or two. (I'd avoid work-for-trade of existing site as that doesn't seem to work either).
Well there is a website already doing this. I guess I can't mention the name because I wouldn't wish to go against the Posting Guidelines, but if you simply type "business partners" into Google UK you'll have it come up at the top.
I second those who say to outsource. Or hire into positions. I am growing my business as an individual. Second step is to gather a network of "helpers". Now I have (all are freelancers), 2 artists, 2 programmers, 1 photographer, 4 sales, and LOTS of advisors. Once I have the cash, I will hire into positions in areas that I lack expertise.
If you must partner, I would definately recommend what rogerd said: structure milestones and ownership/compensation based on that. Talk a good talk, doesn't mean walk a good walk. And you walk if they bok or miss deadlines.
my tip: partnerships rarely work.... the only time they work is if both partners can bring the same cash, same effort and level of intelligence to the table...
many times if you decide to go into a partnership you will feel like you are doing all/most of the work and meanwhile u are splitting profits 50/50.. The problem with partnership is trying to quantify how much each partner should get but that can get into a huge b$tch fight....
i am in a partnership (3 people) for 5 years. We complement each other very well, one does the accounting/content writing, one does the technical stuff/(programming) and i read webmasterworld ;)
We never had a major problem in all those years, the weired thing is i never spoken to my partners on the phone once, never mind seeing them in person (both are in the states (one michigan one colorado) and i am from austria.
we communicate exclusively via messenger and our project management discussion forum...
...as i said maybe i am one of the lucky few
I hire contractors now and it has worked out much better. I get to make all of the decisions and keep all of the profits.