To Partner or Not, that is the Question

business partner

Three pieces of advice to help guide your decision when it comes to partners:

  1. Never partner with anyone who wouldn’t be successful on their own.
  2. Never partner with anyone because you’re afraid to do it alone.
  3. If money is your biggest problem, you really don’t have a problem.

First off: Yes, your buddy Steve is a great guy and can shotgun more beers than anyone else you know without blacking out, but is he a good business partner? Does he bring anything to the table beyond his beer talents? What role will he, or anyone else, fill?

If you go with a partner, find a Yin for your Yang. If you are horrible with social media, find someone who isn’t. If you don’t know how to run the books, find someone who does. The best partnerships are often times the ones that appear not to make much sense on the surface, but in the end, create wonderful things.

Second: After evaluating No. 1, if your potential partners don’t bring much to the table, why are you considering him or her? Take an honest assessment of yourself. Do you need a partner(s) or are you being lead by fear?

Another thing to remember is that there is a difference between a partner and an employee.  The responsibilities of running a Box are countless, but can that workload be handled with some help versus an equal partner?

Third: Money should never be your problem, and it should never be what drives your decision to partner. The excitement of starting something new has a clever way of making anyone think that everything will turn out great. And you and your partner will always see eye-to-eye.

If cash is the only thing someone is bringing to the table, maybe consider alternative options:

  • Start out small. Back in the day, the beauty of CrossFit was that Boxes didn’t need a lot of equipment or space. Follow the stories from the early CrossFits. Start off with the bare minimum and build as you grow.
  • Silent partners — someone who believes in the plan, but doesn’t want to make the day-to-day decisions — are also an option. Enter with caution though, as this can be a slippery slope as well.
  • Save, save, save! In our instant gratification world, patience seems to be a lost virtue. If you don’t have the money, maybe this isn’t the right time. Keep honing your skills by working or interning at a local Box and save those pennies.
  • Just go for it. Mortgage the house, steal from your parents or sell your soul for the cash. It might not be the smartest move, but it sure will keep things exciting.

In full disclosure, I have 2-plus partners in many of my current business ventures, but some have gone and new have come since the originals. Having partners can be the best decision a business owner can make. Just make sure the right people are selected and for the right reasons.

Eric Karls is a founder of CrossFit 859 in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He also helped open CrossFit Fisticuffs in Georgetown, Kentucky, and is the founder/supervisor of Georgetown College CrossFit. Eric can be followed on his personal Facebook or contacted at