3 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Business Independent

By Mark Zeni

It does matter what your business is: whether it is a store, a performance, or your own blog. There is a need to collaborate. Collaborations come in many forms with varying lengths of time. It can be a one-time gig or a business partnership that may last a lifetime. It is easy to identify the benefits of collaboration. The risk and responsibility are divided among the members. This also means that money should not be an issue, with more people contributing it makes capital easy to accumulate. The difficulty with collaborations is when people don’t see eye to eye.

You want to expand your business, but they want to play it safe. You want to stay original, but they want to follow trends. The farther into these partnerships you go, the more you realize that the first vision you both agreed on drifts away. The issues are not only on the level of creative differences. The cracks may appear at a management level. In an ideal world, work will be split 50-50, playing to each of your strengths. What are the odds of you being perfect complements of each other? You might take up more of the work, or the kinds of jobs might not be properly split. It is difficult to properly measure equal distribution.

These warnings stand if you are thinking about getting into a partnership. What do you do when you already find yourself trapped? Here are 3 things you can do to stay independent, or bad business partnership solutions.

1. Prevention is better than cure.

The first way is to not get into a partnership in the first place and avoid a reliant mentality. If you have just gotten out of a bad deal, don’t go jumping into a new one no matter how promising it may seem at the beginning. There will be a honeymoon period, a time when ideas are always fresh, and you work like a well-oiled machine. However, as individuals, we naturally make independent decisions. If there is a misstatement online or controversial content that you did not consent to, you are obligated to go down with the sinking ship. The reverse can also be true, you might want to feature a new product that you believe will be the next best thing, but your partner has apprehensions and you end up not pursuing it.

It’s a push and pull game, and you don’t know when you or they will be right. The risk might be divided, but the credit of a good idea or the blame for a bad move are not as easily split down the middle. Avoid the blame shifting and be independent.
This isn’t to say that you have to run your business or blog on your own. It is just that the power dynamics are tricky to navigate between two people in supposedly equal positions. Have your collaborations but be clear about who is boss.

2. Shift the Power

When you do find yourself in a bad partnership, but you believe in its potential you may opt to shift the power. Identify the roles taken during the rough patch, see who stepped up and pulled the weight. If you did most of the heavy lifting, propose to take over. They may still work with you, but it cannot be equal. If you take over the finance and management, it is best that they take over the creative aspects. Being apart of different sectors guarantees that you are both limited, and no one should have absolute power.

When the other person is willing to fall back, by all means, don’t be afraid to take charge. It might be uncomfortable at first, to be the sole face of your business or blog, but this means you are easy to identify. There should be no misunderstanding about who did what, and credit will naturally fall where it is due.

When everyone works in the environment that fits them best, the whole entity will benefit. Having a clear power structure allows people to properly focus on their job. No one will have to do the major heavy lifting because there was no choice.

3, Go Your Separate Ways.

In particularly bad situations, it is not cowardly to jump ship. When the project has become too different and the people are unreasonable. Take what you can get and start on your own, if you can’t buy them out, then sell out. The ideas that have been neglected now have a proper space to grow. It may seem daunting with the lack of funds. Do as much as you can alone and take out small loans. The progress might be slow, and the work is backbreaking. But at the end of the day, everything is yours. You don’t have to fight over intellectual property rights or division of assets. When you look back, you might be surprised at how far you have come. When you take the opportunities you believe in and you are your own boss, the extra work is worth it.

Collaborations and partnerships aren’t bad. They provide a good safety net for those who are starting out, for those who need an extra push, or for really big ideas that need to be executed fast. If you are more of the turtle than the hare, make the extra effort to be independent. Small collaborations with other equal businesses are fine. They add diversity and help you reach a broader audience. The level of commitment in a long-term partnership is the problem.

Being independent in the long run has more fruits with less of the headache of coordinating and matching up to someone else. You save time, you save effort. Taking out small loans has also become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more start-ups. The discrimination against small businesses has gone. You can achieve the same success on your own as the likes of Kat von D with her own makeup line and college students pursuing their own businesses straight out of school, the market is ripe with opportunities. If anything, it is the right time to be independent.

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