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Solo practitioners: What are you afraid of?

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If you are currently a successful solo practitioner, you may still think from time to time of the benefits of having business partners.

Business partners give you a built-in continuity plan that is so important to clients and regulators. It would be advantageous to spread the expenses of items such as rent, software, and legal fees over more professionals. There is a chance to gain better profitability through increased scale. You have the chance to complement your style with someone else at your level: if you like to think big picture, a partner who is good at details or implementation may add to your success. And, of course, you’ll gain the chance to take a real vacation.

On the other hand, you may know someone who has been in a bad partnership and are aware than when it fails, it can be devastating. It can take significant time to build a successful firm and a great reputation, and those can be lost so quickly. Despite the benefits of partnership, there are significant risks to tying your financial and professional life to others.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What will I have to “give up” to be in a partnership?  For example, decision-making will be different–but the flip side of being the being the final word on all decisions is being a single point of failure.

What do I have to offer potential business partners? Are you a rainmaker with a great network? Do you have excellent rapport with clients? The clearer you are about what your strengths are, the better you can evaluate who would be a good fit.

How will bringing on additional partners help my succession plan or my lifestyle plan?  Even if you have happily and successfully been a solo practitioner for years, as you get older the calculation of whether a partner is a benefit to your practice may change as you see a need for a successor.

Answering these questions honestly is a good first step in evaluating whether partnership is right for you. 

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