Joint Ventures: 4 Ways to Foster a More Successful Creative Partnership
If you asked me to share my #1 secret to a successful creative business, it would be to bribe yourself with cupcakes. Often. And if there were two, it would be cupcakes + building a community that supports your mission.
When I thought I would have a health blog for a hot minute (there were some fashion posts thrown in there too, it was a confusing time in my business life!), I couldn’t figure out why the seemingly dumbest stuff on Pinterest went viral and my carefully crafted, six-hour-long-writing-session blog post sat there with 0 pageviews. It wasn’t until I started to make friends that it clicked... “Oh,” I thought, “so THAT’S why I never had anyone see my stuff!”
Because no one cares about your stuff if they don’t care about you and your story. And rather than telling everyone how great you are (result= ick), it’s better to tell them how great THEY are (result= friends).
How to Set Yourself Up for a Successful Joint Venture
Before my wild-psychology hair gets the best of me, and I decide to create yet another (unread) blog, let’s get to the meat of things and figure out what to do with all these new friends you have (legally speaking).
1. First rule of joint ventures: Form an LLC together.
I know I’m a broken record, but if you have a legit biz (aka not a hobby and not a one-off joint venture) it’s LLC time.
The default setting that comes with your new biz bestie is all of her credit card debt in this new site or business. Ouch. Let’s nip that right in the mud (we’re proudly idiom challenged around here) and grab an LLC to make sure everything is legit and everyone is accounted for. (And, because, you know, you want to keep that friend forever—Claire’s matching jagged heart necklace optional.)
2. Figure out who does what.
Okay, so we’ve established the scary stuff that comes of JV fails (namely, your pal’s credit card debt). We got an LLC. Now what?
We like lists. Lists are good. Let’s list out all the stuff we want, and all the stuff we don’t want!
List out what each of your responsibilities and rights are. We do this in a formal document called an Operating Agreement. The Operating Agreement lists out how the LLC operates and who is responsible for what tasks, payments, and other important information. It also tells you how you plan to pay each member of the LLC and when that will occur.
3. Da Cash Monies
Or for us millennials, let me translate: #payday.
Money and ownership are probably the most important things to talk about in a partnership and they must be part of any collaboration contract you sign. Once you’ve determined who is doing what work, talk about how you’ll be compensated for that work. Whose website will the sales page (and product or service) “live” on? Or will it be a new one? Will you have joint checking accounts? What happens to the money and the property if the LLC goes the way of the dinosaur? Deciding this in advance and having it in writing leaves any question out of the equation and gets you started on the right foot.
4. Get on the same page with communication
Slack, Asana, Da Pulse or old-school email (yuck #sorrynotsorry), any way you cut it you must become an over-communicator when there are others involved.
It’s much easier to have a conversation like this: “Christina, I understood you the third time, thank you, and I’m on it,” than it is to have a conversation like this: “Christina, I haven’t heard from you in 2 weeks (!!!!!) The Widget Team was expecting us to deliver yesterday and they’re saying they still haven’t received our Incredible Thing! What’s going on????”
I’m not going to beat this dead horse, you know you need to communicate. Capiche?
Which one of these things could you work on today? Which ones could you think about in the near future? We’d love to hear from YOU in the comments.
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