Running a small business takes effort, skill, and determination. And sometimes, it requires more than one set of hands on deck. If you're starting a business, you might consider partnering up with someone else to get that venture off the ground. But before you do, be aware of the benefits and pitfalls associated with that decision.

Advantages of working with a business partner

One major benefit of taking on a business partner is getting that extra set of experience and expertise. If your partner's background differs in any way from yours, he or she is apt to bring knowledge and ideas to the table that you wouldn't necessarily possess or come up with yourself. And that's something that can help your company thrive.

Two people shaking hands.


Along these lines, it's often helpful to have a second perspective when making business decisions, especially major ones. Having a partner will allow you to get out of your own head, take emotions off the table, and arrive at choices that end up serving your business well. It's also good to have a sounding board for those times you inevitably come to doubt your decisions.

Furthermore, when you take on a business partner, you get someone with whom to share the actual load with regard to day-to-day operations and tasks. As an individual, you can only do so much, and while there's always the option to outsource those tasks you feel are beyond your scope of capability, there's something to be said about having another person around to help who's financially and emotionally invested in the business like you are. In other words, having a partner might lead to a better work–life balance, which is something many small business owners inevitably come to lack.

Finally, when you work with a partner, you'll have someone to share in the actual cost of starting your business. If your partner is willing to put up some capital as well, you don't take on the financial risk solo. And that's something that could help you sleep better at night, especially in the early stages of your venture when uncertainty abounds.

Drawbacks of working with a business partner

While there are plenty of good reasons to take on a business partner, there are some disadvantages to be aware of as well. For one thing, you'll probably lose out on a certain degree of autonomy, which might put a damper on the whole experience for you. One major reason so many people start their own businesses is that they want the ability to call the shots and do things on their own terms. When you partner up with somebody else, you're suddenly accountable to another person -- a person who might have an equal say as to how things happen on the business front.

Of course, if you and your partner happen to agree on most major decisions, this won't be a huge issue. But what happens when you end up butting heads more often that not? Working with a partner means running the risk that you'll clash constantly, so think about whether you're willing to take it on.

Finally, when you team up with another person to start a business, you give up a share of the company's profits. And while that's a natural byproduct of having a partner, it's something to think about nonetheless.

The bottom line

Having a business partner can be a positive experience, but it can also backfire. If you are going to enlist the help of a business partner, be sure to vet that person extensively before moving forward. Learn about his or her experience, philosophy, and work style before making your partnership official. Just as importantly, make certain you're on the same page with regard to the specific venture you're partnering up on. You might have a certain vision for your business, and if it doesn't align with your partner's, it could be a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, if you find the right partner, getting that second person on board could end up being the best decision you ever make for your business -- and yourself.