Since forming Pure Adapt and having a relatively successful first year, I have gotten a lot of partnership questions from people. Sometimes it’s from friends, sometimes it’s from family, but usually it’s from fellow business owners. I guess it’s kind of unique that four guys who have known each other since elementary school form a company and it actually works, and because of that people are interested in the social dynamic that we have.
How do I know if I need a partner?
I almost want to say “if you have to ask yourself that question, you probably don’t need one”. Let’s face it – every task known to man can be accomplished by an employee. However, I started as a solo-entrepreneur and, looking back, it’s a really tough road. Having a partner allows you to have a bad day here and there because now there’s someone to pick up your slack. Having a partner gives you someone of equal stature to bounce your ideas off of, and because their interests are the same as yours, you’ll usually get a better answer than you’d get from an employee (who wants to kiss your ass) or an outside adviser (who really doesn’t care about your biz). Also – instead of isolating yourself, you now have people who can relate to EXACTLY what you’re going through. That comradery is priceless to me. I know many successful solo-entrepreneurs, but I personally will likely never start a company on my own again.
How do I know if a person is right as a partner?
This is the million dollar question. I’ve known my partners to some extent for the majority of my life. I know their families, I know how they were brought up, and I know they are honest, caring, hard-working, passionate, and intelligent people. Most people aren’t going to be in my situation, but whatever the situation remember this: business partnerships are like marriages with no sex that are probably going to end in divorce. That means you damn well better trust your partners like you trust your parents or your spouse, and you better be prepared (legally and personally) for it to end someday. Just like in any other relationship, you don’t trust someone like that over night. That’s why most business partners I know have some sort of previous relationship – either personally or professionally – that solidifies that trust prior to the business partnership.
What’s it like working with friends?
It’s awesome. We have a lot of common interests (sports, cars, beer, girls, movies, and pretty much anything most 25 year old guys like) and it makes the work environment so much more fun to be able to laugh and enjoy the time you’re spending with your partners. Provided everyone is able to check their egos at the door, and everyone knows when it’s time to stop messing around and time to start working, working with friends is great. There are definitely some friends I would never work with because they are lazy or not very talented, but these guys don’t fit that bill at all.
Don’t you guys get distracted?
Of course. Distraction is good. The human mind needs breaks, and it’s nice to be able to have fun with the people you spend most of your day with.
Aren’t there work issues that spill over into personal lives?
Here’s where I think people don’t “get it”. Anytime you have a business partner they become part of your family. We all live off of the same pot, and if my partner has a personal issue than it becomes our issue. So far, we haven’t had any problems. My partners and I care about each other like we’re family because, well, we kind of are family. We act as a support system when something is wrong, and people are rarely critical of each other unless it’s constructive criticism. If we happen to have a heated argument at work, it’s forgotten by the time we sit down for beers at the end of the night.
What happens if there’s an argument that can’t be solved?
This is another one I don’t think people “get”. Most people say that they’ll never fight with their partners and there will never be an issue that they can’t solve. Just because it hasn’t happened to us, doesn’t mean that at some point it won’t. Remember: a marriage that’ll probably end. Spend the necessary time and money with a good lawyer to draw up a partnership agreement so that if there is a problem you have a solution that’s fair to everyone. We have an arbitration clause in place in case we are 2-2 on a vote, and we have our “break up agreement” meticulously outlined so when someone does want out they get a fair shake. Ultimately, there’s almost no situation where there won’t be an amicable resolution. That gives everyone peace of mind and allows them to focus on their job and not worry about being squeezed out unfairly.
P.S. – Music-Alerts slowed down a bit today, but still growing rapidly. I’m going to spend the weekend trying to grow and monetize it…we’ll see.