I belong to a lot of Facebook groups. A LOT. Why? The collaboration and camaraderie available in these groups is awesome. There is so much business that gets done in these groups and when you’re stuck and need a second opinion on something, there is always someone around to help.

The other day, someone posted in a group that they had partnered with someone and it turned out to be a disaster. They relayed most of the sordid story, sans the person’s name and other personal details and basically said that they would never take on a partner ever again. The person said that they were going to go back to doing everything themselves and would never trust anyone to do anything in their business.

While it sounds tempting to retreat when you’ve been stung, it’s incredibly short sighted. I’ve had several businesses in my life. One was with a partner and it didn’t work out. Does that mean I’m vehemently opposed to partnership? Of course not, but it taught me a lot about what kinds of things I need to have in place if I were to collaborate with a partner.

Deciding to stay a solopreneur is a decision that will keep you small. If that is your goal, then no problem! But if you want to grow your business, you need people. There is no way around that. You will need help, whether you decide to hire people or partner with them – even hiring a coach or consulting company is a form of collaboration. Not getting help will ensure that you kill yourself working 18 hours a day. Trust me, I’ve been there.

When you decide to bring other people into your business, whether it is a partnership, employee or other form of collaboration, you need to put processes in place. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and expectations are set up front. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new project and think that everyone has the same ideals as you do. Here are some of the ways you can protect each other, the business and your sanity:

Contracts

This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people are working on a handshake, hoping that they get what was promised to them. I’ve been in this camp and I can tell you that it’s stressful. If a company that invites you to a project refuses to sign some sort of agreement, think carefully about whether you want to proceed.

These include joint venture agreements, employee contracts, or full partner agreements. Many times they don’t need to be complicated, I’ve seen one page documents that work just fine. As long as the duties, money and expectations are clearly spelled out, you don’t necessarily need a huge document filled with legalese. (But check with your lawyer anyway just to be safe!)

Meetings with Minutes

Have regular meetings with an agenda and get someone to record the minutes. When you meet regularly, you can make sure projects stay on track, people are on the same wavelength and that everyone understands their duties, etc. This is also a great opportunity to answer questions or deal with any difficult situations that arise.

When you have something new, it may be a good idea to have a meeting to introduce new concepts or ideas so that it doesn’t overwhelm your regularly scheduled meetings.

Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are not just for employees. Partners and joint venture agreements need descriptions too. When you have clearly defined roles and duties for each party, things don’t fall through the cracks because each party thought that it was being done by the other; and partners don’t resent one another because they feel that they are the one doing ‘all the work’.

Project Outlines

This is critical on so many levels. Most times, it starts with the end goal – what common goal  are you working towards and how will you achieve it?

I do a project outline with clients as well so that they know what I am including in my service, how long it will take and what the cost is. I also cover what is not included because this is sometimes where things go off the rails. People think or assume that something is included, but it is not in the scope of the project.

Collaboration is an amazing thing if done with a win-win attitude. Not sure whether it’s time for you to start bringing people into your company? Start writing down everything you do on a daily basis. If there are things on that list that are below your pay-grade, start thinking about hiring someone.

If you have social media or online marketing questions and need help deciding how to move forward, maybe you need a consultation with me to clear up any misconceptions and get your business running like a well-oiled machine


Debbie Peck Digital