Partnership – Good or Bad Idea?

Create a partnership—or not?

This is the question Jen Lombardi from Kiwi Creative is asking on the CFC LinkedIn Group.

Jen says: “I’ve been doing freelance work on the side for years, but recently (like, three months ago) left my “real” job to pursue my side biz, Kiwi Creative, as a full-time venture. I have a super sweet office space with room for two future employees, so I definitely have the goal of eventually building up to a small business (like, 5-8 people?) down the road.

Recently, another designer approached me about the idea of a “partnership.” She’s at the point where she’s either going to hire an employee (which she’s not too keen on) to keep up with her ever-expanding workload or join up with someone else who’s already established. We’ve had a couple meetings and definitely seem very similar in terms of ambition, goals, personality, etc. Our next step is to “play office” – she’s going to come sit in my space for a couple weeks and see if we can live together as roommates during the work day. Assuming that goes well, we could potentially be in business together officially as of January 1st.

Here’s where I need your advice: How do you structure such a deal?”

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One thought on “Partnership – Good or Bad Idea?

  1. Rose

    Here’s an alternative to a more structured arrangement:

    I have what we call a “loose partnership”. Our company, Beechleaf Design, is just a registered Trade Name at this point (both our names are on the application, so that we both have Beechleaf bank accounts.) My “partner” and I are simply Sole Proprietors who work together. The work I find, is mine. The work she finds, is hers. When either of us has overflow, we share. When either of us needs to get unstuck, or if we need more design concepts, we share. We often will meet clients together, which shows the client that they have a whole team to work with.

    My partner and I got this idea when we worked together as freelancers at an agency, and we realized we work the same way, and set up our files the same way. We could easily pick up the other’s InDesign file and start working on it… And that doesn’t happen very often! But it’s a crucial element. We have compatible design styles, and complimentary strengths. We work in our separate home offices (saves $$) and get together every week at least once for lunch. We’re also close friends and do other things together.

    Our Beechleaf partnership is over 6 years old, and better than ever. Things are tight now, so we have to be more proactive to get more clients. But being able to walk in as a team, and talk about our wide circle of other colleagues, makes us very appealing to the client.