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Jeff: What are some of the biggest mistakes that you have seen entrepreneurs make? Dave: One of the first biggest mistakes I have seen comes down to partnerships, and I would include in this family partnerships. It is very common for people to feel like because they are not going to have enough time to get everything done; I need a partner; I need to bring someone in. Unfortunately, most of the time partnerships are ill conceived and not documented very well. It's sort of let's just go in to business together and see if we succeed, but they don't clearly define what the rules are.
They don't have a contract. They don't have buyout clauses. What happens when someone gets hurt or incapacitated? What are we going to do? All of these things come into a partnership. You know what's the decision-making process the partners are going to follow? So honestly I advise people to try to avoid having a partnership if possible, but if they are going to have a partnership, to clearly document it, to clearly have a division of labor, to have a contract spelled out, and get everything in writing.
It's easy to be really friendly and feel like oh you know we are just friends, we are just in this together, when there is no money being made. The moment money starts to get made in the business that's when things start to get a little strange. So if you can get it in writing in advance, you are going to find that the partnership goes much more smoothly.
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