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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Are You Partner-Worthy?

Pretty good day yesterday. I worked through another section of my article, lined up a few more interviews, had a conference call, and handled a few small client items. I got some marketing in, but not as much as I'd have liked.

The conference call was with dear chum Anne Wayman and another writer who's proposed an idea that could really boost our collective income stream. It might require a partnership, and that is probably the only thing making us all step carefully.

Partnerships are tricky. I've had plenty and I've been very fortunate every time. Devon Ellington and I partnered on a webinar (and I'm eager to do it again), and it was great fun. Anne and I started with a webinar, and we just clicked. It's all in how you choose.

If you're considering teaming up with another writer, designer, or any business person to increase your workflow, ask yourself this:

What's in it for everyone? Partnerships have to be mutually beneficial. What are you getting from it, and what will your partner require?

What are your motives? If your goal is to ride the coattails of your popular partner without really contributing anything, is that fair to your partner? Be honest with yourself, and with your partner. If the collaboration strongly benefits you but not him or her so much, bring it up. Find a way to brainstorm a solution now so that resentments don't build.

Can you share? That means can you share the profits, the workload, the kudos, and even the blame?

Are you married to your ideas? If so, go solo. No one can collaborate with a one-note who has to have the final word.

How will you divide up the work? Some are strong in design, others are strong in marketing. What do each of you have that will complement the other? Are both of you okay with a slight unevenness at times so long as the workload evens out in the long run?

How much do you intend to invest in the partnership? Every partnership requires time investments, but some may require monetary ones, too. How much are you both willing to contribute?

How will you resolve creative (or other) differences? In Anne's and my case, we call for outside help. It's rare when we don't see things the same way, but it does happen. That's when we bow to the opinion of a third party.

How will you work the finances? Currently, we're set up under a separate Paypal account for our About Writing Squared stuff, but it's getting to a point where someone (namely me) will be hit with tax bills thanks to Paypal's new policy of sending info to the IRS. That's why we're changing to a different payment system and setting up a joint partnership account at an online bank.

What do you really want from the partnership? How will working with this person enhance your business?

Have you partnered with anyone professionally? What, to you, makes a good partner?


Devon Ellington said...

Clear communication is key, done respectfully. You can't expect the other person to mind-read. Talk things out, write out the discussions and the plan, so everyone's literally got the same page of text (plan) in front of them, and they can follow the steps mutually agreed upon.

I'd love to do another project with you!

Paula said...

I've successfully collaborated with other writers a couple of times. Not professionally, exactly, since it involved co-writing scripts for different contests. Ahead of time we decided to break it up: Person A writes so many pages, Person B helps edit those then writes the next set of pages...rinse and repeat.

Some of the fun was when we debated things like, "Would that character really say that?" Or, in one case, having my writing partner defend why he wanted to give a character a really odd (and hard to spell) name. He made his case so we kept it.

Financially the deal was 50-50 for fees, prizes, etc...One partner was in another country, so he sent me an electronic Amazon gift card that was roughly half what I paid for the entry fee, postage, and copies. It worked out well, even if we didn't win. The point is we discussed these things before we started writing.

Lori said...

You're on, Devon! :)

Paula, that sounds like a great collaboration!

Kimberly Ben said...

Great advice, Lori. As you know I'm considering a potential partnership with another writer/blogger, and as we hammer out the details of a prospective joint venture, I can definitely say that the questions you've provided are a really good starting place.

Lori said...

Good luck with it, Kim. It sounds like a great opportunity for you both!

Damaria Senne said...

Good advice Lori. I've had partnerships that worked ( where we respected each other, communicated clearly and all the parties came out of it satisfied) and i've had a partnership that was problematic because my partner did not share my work ethic ( she blew off deadlines and somehow we always ended up doing work that was assigned to her jointly because she did not do it on time).

Lori said...

Damaria, that's bad. It's a good point, too. If the partner's work ethic doesn't match your own, there could be trouble.

That is, unless you're the slacker and the partner is the one who meets every deadline - then you'll be out one partner sooner than you think! :)

Anne Wayman said...

Love it Lori - you're a dream to work with imo and experience.

And when we disagree and ask someone to help out what usually happens is that person sees the problem enough differently that the solution becomes something with a piece of each of us in it... and asking for help is another way I learned Lori was super to work with.

Anne Wayman said...

Another thought - I worked with one person and our personalities clashed. I think we each did equal work, but when I'd gripe to a friend I also felt my partner was probably griping about me! I don't know for sure, but I'll bet we were equally relieved when it came to an end.

Lori said...

Anne, I think I remember that particular partnership. Yes, I do believe there were personality issues, and from what I recall, there were maybe a few hidden objectives? It doesn't always work out, but that's not always a bad thing!

Jennifer said...

I'd add that a certain amount of respect for the other party's ideas is key. Big egos don't play well with others. Business terms that align well, too. I usually tend to go solo when possible because it's just less complicated.

Govt Jobs said...

It is always better if two partners compliment each other than bringing same expertise.

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