Do You Need a Business Partner?

Should you start a home-based food business alone or with a business partner?

You don't need a partner in a tiny home-based food business. You'll end up doing more work on the partnership than the actual business.

But if you insist on working with a partner, you'll learn:

  • Why you should get a partner
  • Why you shouldn't get a partner

It's okay to want to work with a co-founder. It feels great to have someone behind your back. You can also split the risk when things everything feels overwhelming. And you can have more fun working with other people.

And for bigger ventures, you should make an effort to bring in a great partner. But this isn't a big venture.

Because of the tiny nature of home-based food businesses, you might fall into a “too many cooks” trap and overstuff your business with decision-makers.

When you act alone, you decide fast. "Should I buy a cheap or expensive oven?" If you run that by someone else, that may add another hour or two waiting for a reply. With a non-responsive partner, sometimes days. And multiply that with the hundreds of other decisions you'll make. When you start, you want to launch as fast as you can. Waiting on decisions will kill you even before you start.

Getting a partner also adds unnecessary headbutting to the mix. "Should we use red or blue for our logo?" It sounds dumb, but people fight about these things. Beliefs become an issue too. If you one of you believes in feng shui and the other does not, you might go around discussing qi instead of cash.

And if you really want to bring in a partner, you have to start talking about money and ownership early. Depending on how straightforward the both of you are, you may find this discussion very complicated. Friends and family, who you will likely recruit to be your partners, can be tough to handle when it comes to financial negotiations. When you just want to get started with your business, you will add this heavy burden early on.

"How much do you think is fair for you?"

"I don't know. What do you think?"

"I don't know. What do you think?" It's a tough conversation.

So before you bring someone in, make sure you know what you’re doing. You can't reverse a partnership decision without pain. If a friend joins you as a partner, get ready to see that friendship dissolve together with the failed partnership.

If you can, just start alone. It doesn’t have to be forever. Just don’t complicate the already chaotic early days—they’re hard enough as it is. Once sales look like they’re picking up and you need more help, then start considering inviting a new partner in.

But if you really want to work with someone, here are things to think about.

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