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Business partner issues

What are the key issues to address early on in negotiating a business partnership? 
Among the considerations when negotiating a business partnership are:

- Make sure you get the advice of an attorney who has done business startup work and ongoing legal work for small businesses. Better partnership agreements create better partnerships.

- Make sure your expectations and priorities for the business are in harmony. Reach agreements on cash flow management, compensation, work hours, additional investment requirements and the multitude of other typical business details.

- Decide who will be in charge of decision making in what areas such as spending and hiring. Agree on hot issues such as the hiring of friends and family. If you can't agree enough to create an acceptable written partnership agreement, then you should seriously question the partnership idea itself.

- Write your "divorce agreement" before you "marry." Plan on how you will divide up the assets and liabilities when you separate or one partner dies or is unable to work. Clearly define partner buyback and buyout terms and conditions. 
Brain Trust contributor: Author of Hurdle: The Book on Business Planning President, Palo Alto Software
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