Did having a business partner contribute sufficiently to your business or do you regret having one?


First-hand experiences only please, no books or blogs.


asked Nov 9 '09 at 21:28
131 points
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7 Answers


Great partner > single > lousy partner.

It's the same thing as relationship. It's better to be single, if you can't find great one.

Yes, having a great partner contribute A LOT. You need someone to bounce the idea. It's easier to find your blind spots by bouncing the idea around.

The only time i regret was when i knew some people weren't the right partners, but pretend they were because things feel easier to have 'co-founder'. Except, i'll learned that having a lousy partner probably waste more of my energy managing the team-dynamics.

I failed fast in the early days of my venture. I probably have killed about 3 teams, before i finally found working one. Most people do not have founders-mentality. It's crazy, it's risky and it expects you to be ridiculously self-motivated (then, you'll find out that you're the minority in this world, rather than majority - except, maybe in Silicon Valley)

Few tips that i learned from experience:

  1. Test if your potential partner is a follower or 'leader'. My way, I'll pitch you the idea, then, i'll leave you alone for the next 2 weeks. If you never come back to me, that's the first sign it's not a right partner. In early days, you don't want 'follower'. You want someone who can motivate themselves and work even without you pushing them all the time.
  2. Clarify everything and document it INFORMALLY. Especially worst-case scenario. 'What happen if you or the partner decide to move on after 1.5 years?'. 'What is the exit goal? To build 100 million business or build 1 million?'. 'Is it fair to split by 50-50?', 'Who will run what? Who will do CEO job?' etc.

Hope that helps.

answered Nov 10 '09 at 00:38
Hendro Wijaya
1,408 points
  • Something is broken here. I didn't edit this. I just upvoted it. – rbwhitaker 10 years ago
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I am working with my best friend for the second time on our start-up. Our first one failed but not because of issues between us - we were 17 and had the right idea at the wrong time and knowing the wrong people.

This time round we believe we have the right idea, at the right time and there are several key advantages to us working together:

  1. Our skills, network and experience are vastly different therefore creating a synergy when we work together.
  2. We are different kinds of people, creating the foundations of a balanced team - not just two leaders, but ideas people, implementers etc.
  3. We regularly bounce ideas off each other and provide constructive criticism - therefore not always pretending everything is ok to spare each other's feelings.

On the other hand we do face one or two issues but we are working on ironing them out. For example, we tend to waist time micro-managing each other and for important things we tend to both spend all our time on them instead of just accepting that one of us can get the job done. The important thing is to be aware of the common problems of working with a business partner (especially if they are also a friend) but also, to fully take advantage of the synergies that working with someone can bring to your business.

A few other things I have thought about after reading your question again include: To be able to say whether or not my business partner contributed sufficiently to our business is an issue of managing expectations and early commitments.

We always attach "key performance indicators ", not only for our business and products but for ourselves. Based on the SMART goals model we always set goals that are relevant to what we bring to the table and achievable within a certain time frame.

For example, an investor can be expected to provide funding and support while an engineer can be expected to commit to a schedule of certain key updates.

Setting those early commitments (and
including them in a partnership
agreement) while managing the
expectations we have of each other
over time is an easy way to measure
whether or not a partner provides a
sufficient contribution to the

answered Feb 28 '11 at 22:16
Nikolay Piryankov
683 points


I have a great business partner. I regret that I am unable to contribute as much as he. Until we get to revenue only one of us can afford to work full time with no income. From discussions with him I am told that he has no problem with the scenario and knows I am doing all I can with the time I do have.

I have another idea for a business and would love to get partners for it as well.

The right partners are a huge help.

I think you are missing the point here - your question should have a follow-up with "why" or "explain" and "what would you do differently".

answered Nov 10 '09 at 00:13
Tim J
8,346 points


Something I've found helpful is to have friends that act as a sort of council, in the place of an actual business partner. You get many of the benefits of asking them questions, for the low, low price of the cost of lunch every once in a while. Plus they're your friends so it's a good excuse to hang out :)

If you want to be the man with the plan, make decisions without having to consult anybody, and take ideas and run with them, consider it. Having a business partner can help tone you down or encourage you more actively too, but like others have said, it can be difficult to find the business partner that complements you well.

answered Feb 27 '11 at 17:20
121 points
  • The advice of friends can prove extremely expensive - unless they are experts in your industry – Susan Jones 13 years ago
  • Definitely, so it's up to you to separate their advice from your action and do your own research as well, or perhaps consult someone that is an expert. Perhaps I should've qualified my statement with "educated" or "expert". – Jordan 13 years ago


I think that 'good' is kind of subjective, for me it means someone who puts in the agreed amounts of money on time and actually works to advance the company with the least amount of conflict as possible.

I've always been a few fries short of that particular happy meal. What I was fortunate enough to find is someone who was willing to trust me with a little bit of money, which came back, then more, and more. In that regard, its more like having an absentee boss than a partner, but it does have its perks.

In my experience, equal partnerships almost never work. The chain of command is unclear, you find employees running to their 'favorite parent', vendors become partial to one or the other, it just gets sticky.

What I'm working on now is getting something off the ground and structured administratively prior to offering a less than equal partnership to someone else. I know that I can not (practically) single handedly build every part of the company on my own and then open the doors to employees that I can't possibly manage on my own. But, at least for me, I'm enjoying my solitude while getting the crucial seeds planted.

answered Nov 10 '09 at 01:34
Tim Post
633 points


Bringing on a partner is without a doubt the best decision I ever made in building my business, because from that point on, it became our business, and the company has benefitted from the sum total of both of our best ideas, energy, resources and optimism.

I believe that anyone who regrets having brought on a partner is really regretting the fact that they brought on the wrong partner and not the idea of having brought on any partner at all. It is a universal truth that an effective team will always run circles around a one-man-show, and a good partnership is the most effective team a business can have.

answered Mar 2 '11 at 19:00
871 points


Sometimes you dont get to know someone until you have spent a lot of time with them. So its very hard to figure out who a good partner would be. For me, it has not worked out. I like 12 hour days, 6 days a week. Its hard to find someone that is as greedy as i am :)

answered Feb 28 '11 at 21:42
2,079 points
  • Thanks for the bounty! – Nikolay Piryankov 13 years ago
  • Well deserved. Thanks for updating your answer and for giving a personal account versus the "book smart" answers we so often find here. – Frank 13 years ago

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