If you’re about to launch a new business or are thinking of expanding an existing one, one of the first questions to ask yourself is whether you prefer to work alone or with a partner. There’s no one answer to this question, since there are advantages and disadvantages both of working alone and of partnering. After reviewing the pros and cons of each choice, you ultimately have to decide what makes sense for your personality and your business model.
Advantages of working with a partner
- A partner can help with decision making, and the burden is not entirely on your shoulders. New perspectives and entirely new ideas come out of debates between partners. Talking decisions through helps you see all sides of the argument and come to a well-thought out decision.
- If there is a problem or there is a mistake made, you and your partner can work together to do damage control. This will likely result in a quicker and more effective fix. Shared responsibility doesn’t sit as heavily on your shoulders as sole responsibility does.
- Partnerships can be quite fruitful if each partner brings different skills to the table. If you are an excellent innovator but not a great salesperson, you can partner with a marketer who will bring your innovation to the notice of potential customers.
Advantages of working solo
- As sole proprietor, you can make decisions much more quickly. If you don’t have to run the decision by anyone else, as soon as you make a choice you can immediately move on to implementation.
- When something goes wrong and a bad decision is made, instead of pointing fingers at others, you learn from your mistake and focus on fixing the problem.
- You don’t have to answer to anyone else so you can run your business exactly as you see fit. If you want to take the business in a new direction or hire on a new employee, there’s no one to consult but yourself.
With or without a partner?
Before choosing whether or not to take on a partner, ask yourself these questions:
- Isyour decision-making process or business model unique? If so, it may be easier to go solo so you aren’t in friction with others as you work.
- Do you prefer to delegate? Consider hiring employees or working with freelancers, while maintaining your status as sole boss.
- Is there a strong support system behind you? If you have family members and friends with whom you can bounce around ideas, who will support you through thick and thin, you may not need a business partner.
- Do you enjoy brainstorming and weighing pros and cons carefully before making a decision? A partner can make that process smoother and more efficient.
- Are you less experienced than you would like? A more experienced partner can bring important knowledge and perspective to your venture.
- Do you find it hard to separate emotions from logic? Business decisions need to be made from a logical point of view, so bringing in a partner who can point out and neutralize your emotional responses can help you succeed.
As with most business decisions, it is possible to change your mind later on and move to a different model. But it’s easier to add a partner to an established business than to split up a partnership, so if you aren’t sure, consider starting out solo and reevaluating later on.