The Pros and Cons of Taking on a Business Partner

Is partnering the right path for you and your business?

Adding a business partner may give your business an extra boost in revenue. After all, twice the brainpower and effort could add up to twice the productivity and profits.

Having the right partner can help you grow beyond your personal limits, gain a key ally, and expand your business footprint.

There are plenty of examples of successful partnerships among professional painting contractors. Rodrigo Vasconcellos, owner of Palette Pro Painting and Renovation in White Plains, New York, brought in his brother-in-law as a partner to help manage his growing staff. As a result, Vasconcellos says, “We grew 100 percent that first year. The following year, we had the same results because I trusted him, and he helped me develop the business.”

However, not all business relationships turn out so well. Studies have shown that business partnerships fail more often than not, usually due to lack of trust and deteriorating relationships between the partners. A bad team-up could send your business into a financial nosedive.

So how do you know if adding a business partner to the mix is right for you? There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, but there are lots of best practices. Experts agree that several factors should be considered before any small business owner enters a partnership. Do the pros outweigh the cons for your business?

You’ll have less financial burden and more buying power
If your business is struggling to pay the bills or lacks capital to expand, partnering with a new investor might answer your problems.

Having a partner also means that you can split future expenses, rather than paying for everything yourself. And beyond funding alone, a partner can offer good advice when it comes to investing and finances. Combine this with Sherwin-Williams’ benefits for PRO+ members—including 0% interest credit—and you can set your business up for financial success.

You can get a second opinion on major decisions
Having a partner can be invaluable when making decisions. They may be able to point out something you missed, share lessons from past experiences, or even handle the decision-making entirely, so that you can focus on your strengths.

Imagine the relief of never having to handle a crisis alone. Your business partner can become your confidant, your creative collaborator, and even your friend—and prevent you from spreading yourself too thin.

You can expand your business’ reach with complementary skills
As a painter, you know all about complementary colors—two very different colors that bring out something special in each other. Paired together in a room, they might add a certain glow, contrast, or effect that delivers that wow factor.

You can use the same approach for finding a business partner. Find someone who has different talents than you and brings something new to the table. When you team up with someone else, you are also acquiring that person’s skills. Try not to choose a clone of yourself, and you just might see your business skyrocket.

Do you like meeting with customers and prospects but dislike managing the day-to-day activities of your painting crew? Find a partner who’s strong at team management and let them handle that side of the business while you focus on customer relationships.

Maybe your new partner has lots of connections in a market you want to break into. Partnerships can launch your business into entirely new segments.

Finding the right partner can be hard work upfront
No matter how excited you may be to expand, don’t be too quick to jump on the very first option that comes your way. Consider carefully who you are going into business with.

Ask tough questions and really listen to their answers. Does this person have the same vision for the company as you? Do they have past business experience or good character references? Will their personality mesh with yours? If their answers don’t line up with yours, don’t be afraid to turn down the deal.

After all, even with some exit language in place, breaking up is hard to do, particularly when it comes to splitting up assets. Save yourself the hassle and do your research upfront to make sure it’s a good fit.

You may disagree with your partner on your next move
No matter how like-minded you and your partner are, you will likely still disagree sometimes, whether it be over decisions to reinvest profits or pursue new market segments. You either must find middle ground, or one of you will just have to agree to disagree and proceed on a path not of their choosing.

Are you too controlling to be able to do that?

Remember, decisions will now be shared—you’ve given up the right to make every call on your own.

Your partner may not be the answer
What’s holding your business back from growing? If you’re lacking funds, connections, or skills, you may be a partner away from success. But not every problem can be fixed by a partner.

Are you in a small or depressed market where there’s not enough demand to support further growth?

Are you struggling to recruit, train, and keep employees on your team?

Are your customers failing to pay you on time (or at all)?

Getting a business partner won’t necessarily solve these issues. Be realistic about which solutions a partner will be able to provide—and which solutions you’ll have to find for yourself.

There’s a huge potential upside to taking on a business partner, but it may not be the right fit for everyone. Minimize your risk by making sure your vision and communication style are in alignment. Working through a careful and thoughtful process in advance may save you future headaches down the road.