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Contemplating a Business Partnership?

The initial inspiration is the fun part. Next comes an honest discussion of expectations, roles, and other details of a good pairing

A business partnership (BusinessWeek SmallBiz, June/July, 2007) is usually hatched in a state of inspired optimism when two or more seemingly like-minded individuals come together with an idea to create a product or service and develop it into a business. But perhaps not surprisingly, for every partnership agreed upon formally or informally, there are a number of questions about the best way to keep it going forward. How should the contributions of each party be tallied? How does that play into the continued growth and stake of each person involved? Is the idea man worth as much as the guy who brings the money?

In their book Beer School, Steve Hindy and Tom Potter, who founded Brooklyn Brewery in 1987, described the importance of defining a partnership from the outset and formalizing it on paper with a set of parameters that could be referred to when questions or troubles arise. To underscore their point, the pair wrote: "Even a dog can shake hands."