Whenever or however you start your career in construction, you will eventually run into an opportunity to become someone’s partner. It usually comes when you are at your most vulnerable; you have bills and no money, jobs and none of the requisite skills or work and no energy. In other words, when you are in the worst position to negotiate anything.
The Canadian television show Dragons Den shows it best. People who have sunk their life savings into a business dream are asked to give up half the value of their company in the blink of an eye for a couple of bucks of support.
“Let’s be partners!” says Kevin O’Leary or Jim Treliving, and whoosh! The hapless beggar hands over hundreds of hours of sweat equity and thousands of dollars of hard earned value to a $4 thousand suit who doesn’t need it. The return is some knowledge they can probably get for free from Google or Wikipedia.
Just as bad is to be on the other side of the ledger. You offer a partnership to someone down on his luck, money or commitment and become the rock the guy leans on, the well he continually comes back to for money or the last man standing when the loan officer comes to call.
The money a partnership brings can be borrowed without loss of equity. The expertise it offers can be bought or learned. There is nothing a partnership can do that you can’t do alone. But, at its worst, a partnership can strip you off your assets.
And business partnerships always end badly. The split is never neat and the wound of separation never completely healed. Life is too short and too hard to add to it the misery of a partnership gone bad, which is the only kind of partnership there is.
Keep your equity. If you must fail, fail alone and move on. If you succeed, as you must, enjoy the fruit of it alone. See the offer of a partnership as a temptation to be avoided, not an opportunity to be explored. Avoid partnership at all costs.