[thelist] partnering

Karin Ransdell kransdell at squishedmosquito.com
Wed Jun 6 16:47:15 CDT 2001

> > Go the referral fee route - otherwise you're going to end up with an
> > additional body between you and the client for the duration of
> > the projects.
> Yeah... but your name is "sales."
> Anyway, a valid point -- any thoughts on how to approach someone about

This response has more to do with a symbiotic consultancy or subcontractual
partnership than
heckbook partnership.  It makes a couple of broad assumptions, one of which
is (as others have said) the two of you don't do the same thing or would
otherwise be in direct competition with one another if you both had shops on
the same street.  This sounds like what you're looking at anyway.

We have exactly this relationship with a very prominent consultancy in a
particular industry.  All of what aardvark says is true.  Partnerships open
doors that many design houses wouldn't even think of, much less have access
to.  "Partners", right along with the dubious "affiliates" has gotten a very
bad reputation as a result of the recent tech bust.  Partnerships turn into
dominoes when one of you topples.  Looking beyond the phobia, I recommend
that you at least discuss it thoroughly with your potential partner(s).

Be sure to consider the following points-

Communication -

Pick partners that you communicate with *extremely* well and ones that will
hand you the client and then get out of your way <exclamation point>.
Personally, I've found that competent consultants who have confidence in
their own part of the project are professional enough to realize that you
are an expert in your part of the project and trust you and your work.
Beware the micro-manager!  If you've got one of those... run... run like the

Negotiation -

To quote aardvark, "don't beat around the bush."  If someone is considering
you, they obviously see something in it for them, or they wouldn't have
asked.  To them, you already have value.  If you are initiating the
discussion, make a list of your strengths, your areas of expertise and how
they complement your proposed partner.  Don't be shy about saying "but you
can't do <insert skill here> and I/we/my company can".

Preparation -

Which really should be first, but what the heck.  Learn everything you can
about your potential partner, whether it's a subcontractual type
relationship or full-blown business partner.  The closest thing to compare
it to is marriage -- if you're going all the way, get the blood test!  Check
their resume, past client list, current affiliations, work history,
financial statements if publicly available and any type of serious money is
involved(beware those who won't allow this), whatever you can get your hands

On another personal note, my first partnership experience (a true business
partnership, same office, both names on the lease, blahblah) was a
nightmare.  If I had gotten past the pleasant personality and the eager
enthusiasm, I would have seen all the warning signs.  The day I turned up at
the office to find it empty was a life lesson I will never forget ;)  A
current same-office partnership is fabulous, because we can yell and scream
at one another for five minutes -- figuratively and literally -- and get the
project together and out the door, then go off and have a margarita and talk
about our families.  Sometimes you click, sometimes you don't.

In short, partnerships can be a blessing or a curse.  If the potential
partner can't (or won't) make it past the process above, bail out while you
can.  If he or she makes it, get it in writing, as they say, and then go
make some money together.


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