When Avril Lavigne and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger decided to collaborate with one another a few years back, some might have said that working with the frontman for the most-hated rock band in the world probably wasn’t the best career move for Napanee’s own Pop Princess. But … it wasn’t all that bad. As Lavigne’s producer, Kroeger was contracted to do a job, and both parties knew that — as soon as Lavigne finished belting out an album — their relationship would come to an end. Period.
That’s the beauty of most business relationships. They come … they go … and usually no one gets hurt.
Yet, entrepreneurs (and apparently musicians) continually make the same mistakes; someone comes along with a little bit of cash to infuse into the business at a crucial time, or has a much-needed skill, and suddenly a one-person business becomes two, and things run off the rails.
Taking on a partner, as opposed to contracting someone to do a job for a finite amount of time, is a gigantic step — and a decision that must not be taken lightly. In the case of our Canadian crooners, Avril liked what she saw in Chad and … Zap! Not only did we get the 2013 heart-wrenching ballad “Let it Go”, we also got accosted by overzealous tabloid headlines in the supermarket celebrating yet another doomed celebrity marriage.
What’s that got to do with you? Consider this: You began with an idea, and turned it into something real — an actual, honest-to-God business. After that, you spent long nights and endless days with it, keeping it going, helping it grow. Then, along comes someone with a flashy car, a thick wallet and a beautiful mane of hair. You hit it off, they spend a little money on your business, and after a while, things get serious. They want to get married. You like the car, and the cash. But you don’t like how they sit on the sofa all day eating Cheezies while you’re wearing out the soles of your shoes coming up with new leads.
Hopefully, you see what I am getting at. You had a baby. It was a business. Then along comes Chad Kroeger and you make that guy your business partner. Big mistake.
Relationships between business partners don’t come with an expiry date. Sure, there’s no vows or rings or flowers, but — for all intents and purposes — it’s a serious commitment between two (or more) people. And just like marriage, divorce between business partners can often get messy, sometimes nasty, and quite expensive.
If you are considering whether or not you want to bring on a business partner, you need to think hard about the level of investment, in terms of time and money, that partner is willing to make. Your visions for the company also need to align. If you want to grow the business into a multi-national corporation over the next twenty years and your partner just wants to make it profitable so he or she can sell-out, a partnership will only invite conflict later on.
That doesn’t mean you need to end things completely, however. By defining the relationship, outlining the deliverables, and establishing an end-date through a contractual agreement, you can make the most out of business relationships without ever saying “I do.” And, if things are working out well, and you’d like to continue the relationship, both parties can reevaluate and establish another contract.
By now, you might be thinking that I’m advocating for permanent bachelorhood when it comes to your business — but that’s simply not true. If your potential business partner shares your vision, your passion, and your work ethic, elope to the lawyer’s office and make things official. Just don’t let me catch you, years from now, asking yourself the same question that Avril Lavigne now asks herself: “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?”