12 Great Reasons for Business Partnership

1. Two heads are better than one (mostly).

The Coen Brothers. Frank and Orville Wright. Dave Packard and Bill
Hewlett.  Larry and Sergey. Rocky and Bullwinkle—well maybe not them.
But in most cases, having a great partner can multiply the amount of
ideas, intelligence, background, and experience your business can draw
upon. We all need a good wingman or -woman.

2. You can double your resources and your ability to reach customers.

This was us. When I was running my business plan/RFP business, I was
continually contracting with local design companies to help create with
the visual elements of branding. My partner had worked as a graphic
designer at one such firm, and when that company lost its creative
director he started up his own solo design service. I kept giving him
design work, and eventually the penny dropped: why didn’t we just
combine forces and start our own branding business? He could supervise
all the design work, and I would be the marketing and client outreach
person. He had graphics skills; I had business, sales, writing and
branding acumen, plus a killer Rolodex.  (Yes, it was still the Rolodex
days, although electronic databases soon took over.) Together we could
offer a much wider range of services to a much larger number of clients.

Bringing in a partner can give you access to a much richer pool of
financial resources and business networks. And because there are two of
you, there’s someone else to hit the pavements and look for business,
cultivate clients, network and ultimately serve your customers.

3. Your partner has strengths that you lack, and vice versa

Batman and Robin, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers—even superheroes
band together to compensate for each other’s weaknesses so that
individually they can focus on using their strengths. That’s what great
partners do. As collaborators Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller write in Power of 2, “Your
strengths are stronger and your weaknesses weaker than you realize. You
need help. You are also precisely the help someone else needs.”

 4. There’s someone else to rely on when it comes to bringing home the bacon.

After my partner and I went into business together, we could take on a
lot more projects than before. In next to no time, our business
exploded. Most partners will tell you that having someone else to help
shoulder the workload or just take responsibility for different parts of
the business can increase your company’s income potential dramatically.

5. It promotes greater creativity and can spur innovation.

It’s hard to brainstorm alone. Most people’s creative juices flow
more freely if they can bounce ideas off others. And things get really interesting
when you have partners who bring their own ideas and perspectives to
the party—that’s often when the biggest leaps of innovation occur. I
know I’m far more creative in the kind of “give and take” atmosphere
that my business had at its best.

6. It serves as a model for employees and fosters collaboration.

The old top-down business model is dead. I’ve been to the funeral.
Nowadays smart businesses are looking to “partner” with employees and
other people at all levels to hear their ideas, get their input and even
empower them to make decisions that in the past might have been run up
the corporate ladder. And partnerships at the top of the business can
serve as collaborative models for the rest of the company. This is a
benefit that can swing both ways, however. If the partners are great
collaborators, employees will model them; if there’s trouble in
paradise, employees will model that, too.

7. A partner’s perspective can help you break free of your old way of doing things.

Brothers Sam, Harry, Albert, and Jack Warner founded the Warner Bros.
movie studios in 1918. When Sam Warner proposed the radical idea of
synchronizing sound with their movies, brother Harry opposed the idea,
saying, “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” But Sam persevered and
in 1927, Warner Bros. made film history with The Jazz Singer,
the first “talking picture.” Sam’s perspective on the possibilities of
sound in film liberated an entire industry from its old ways and put
Warner Bros. back in the black and back on the map. Sometimes it takes
another person’s perspective to shake a successful business out of
complacency and see an old business in a new way.

8. Partners can help you take greater risks.

A good partner can challenge you to take the kinds of risk that will
help your business grow. When things were going right in my partnership,
we were able to take on projects that were way outside our respective
comfort zones. We felt safe enough to say, “Sure, we can do that,” when
we didn’t have a clue how to actually do it. That was one of my favorite
parts of our partnership. I knew we could master just about anything
together. It was so much fun!

Partners also can encourage each other to be more daring simply
because each partner figures the other will be there to pick up the
pieces if the risk doesn’t pan out. When Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing
Norgay set out to climb Mt. Everest in 1953, relied on the other for
keeping both of them safe despite the massive risks

of climbing the world’s tallest mountain. At one point, Hilary broke
through soft snow and slid into a crevasse. But because he and Tenzing
were roped together, Tenzing was able to stop Hilary’s fall and pull him
to safety. Great partners help you attempt big things and pull you out
when things go wrong.

9. Partners also can serve as a restraint in keeping you from risking too much.

One of the reasons Warren Buffett has partnered with Charlie Munger
for almost 50 years is the fact that Charlie says no to most investment
opportunities that come their way. “When I call Charlie with an idea,”
says Buffet, “he has three reactions. One is,

‘Warren, that’s a dumb idea.’ Then, we put one hundred percent of our
net worth into the idea. If it’s ‘Warren, that’s one of the dumbest
ideas I’ve ever heard,’ we put half of our net worth into the idea. And
if it’s ‘You’ve gone out of your mind, and I’m going to have you
committed,’ then we pass.” Warren is an incredible enthusiast; Charlie
is the bath of cold water that stops Warren from doing something stupid
with Berkshire Hathaway’s money. A good partner will tell you when an
idea is full of crap and keep you from taking on too much risk.

10. Working together for a common goal is a lot more fun than working alone.

In the same way that great sex is a lot more fun with a partner,
business is a lot more fun when you can share it with someone else. When
my partnership  was good, every day at work was so much fun I actually
hated having to go home. So we didn’t! Instead, we took the whole team
to dinner. There’s something exciting and exhilarating in facing
challenges together, and if you’re blessed with a partner with a sense
of humor that meshes with yours (and I was), work becomes like play.

11. Try playing good cop/bad cop when it’s just you.

Managing clients and employees is exhausting. On the days when you
just need a break, your partner is there to pick up the slack. Or if you
have a difficult client on the phone and you’re not in the frame of
mind to reason rather than react, your partner can take over. Our
synergy was good in this area. When I was overwhelmed, I could always
count on my partner to listen with an unfathomable amount of patience.
Sometimes you need to punt to win.

12. It sucks to cry or celebrate alone.

Think about getting the big contract or hearing that your loan has
been called, with no one else there. Somehow jumping around screaming
with happiness by yourself isn’t nearly as great as jump- ing with a
partner. Conversely, when the sh*t hits the fan, there’s nothing like
having a shoulder available when you need it, and providing one when
they do. Having someone to share the highs and lows of business makes
both better.


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