Ever heard of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield? You probably have, because in 1978 they co-founded the ice cream business, Ben & Jerry’s.
Partnerships like the above have brought dozens of companies and ideas – like Google, Twitter and Apple – to life. Affiliates are no different.
“One of the benefits of partnership is [having] someone that you can bounce ideas off of that actually understands the stressors of owning a business,” said Andrea Smith, a co-owner of Trident CrossFit in Alexandria, Virginia.
In order to make a partnership successful, Adam Sturm, a co-owner of CrossFit Outbreak in Brooklyn, New York, explained it starts with having well-defined duties. While both he and his co-owner, Shimi Litkowski, coach 10 to 15 hours a week at their three locations, Sturm pays the bills and deals with admin work, while Litkowski handles the bookkeeper and coaching schedule. Sturm said they put a partnership agreement together to give a clear definition of what is expected. One of the biggest challenges, however, is figuring out how to overcome disagreements. “Make sure you find someone that you can agree with on stuff,” he said
Smith said a partnership has things that contribute to the success and failure of any relationship. “The first one is managing expectations for any relationship, and then communication is huge. If you have those two things, you’re probably going to be doing alright because you pretty much can take care of any problem,” said Smith.
On top of goals, Sturm explained they also put in their partnership agreement that both owners must have life insurance. If something happens to one of the owners, the life insurance is split between the family and the business. And that split is considered the buyout of the deceased owner’s family.
Smith said people need to give a partnership as much thought as a marriage. She explained before signing on a partner, you need to ask a lot of hard questions: What will happen if we disagree? What happens if one of us dies? What will happen should we want to expand? “To me, anything good and valid is going to stand up to questioning,” she said.
More than that, Smith explained finding a partner who is just as motivated as you are in your business is essential. “I realized the difference of a partner that’s equally as motivated, where you’re both really equally as committed to putting in the work,” she said.