You’ve read about successful partnerships, some failed ones and others that turned their downward spiral up again. Key essentials are shared by all of them. In the successful ones, trust was talked about first and foremost; in the ones that fizzled or flopped altogether, trust was eroded.

Next are respect and willingness to do whatever the businesses need to have done without the partners counting the hours and minutes they put in. We also see in these partners’ stories a readiness to be transparent, make solid commitments, then take full responsibility for knowing the big picture of the business overall—including decisions that aren’t in their direct line of job responsibilities.

If the individuals are in business with a relative, friend or spouse, the successful partners set boundaries between personal and business life, and stick to them.

Finally, and of utmost importance, the most essential key to successful partnerships is communication. Keep the conversations going and schedule them in on a regular basis. Hold meetings in which you plan, evaluate, tell each other what annoyances or disagreements you have, then talk about them until everything is resolved. Successful partners do not avoid each other in order not to face resentment. Note that all the successful partners discussed in this book talked about arriving at consensus and agreed not to do anything without it.

First and foremost, it is essential to choose the right partner. Making sure your objectives are aligned is important. If your focus is on marketing then one of you may go down the route of listing your business with every free UK business directory on the internet. Your partner may not agree with this approach and may decide that marketing with Facebook ads is the correct approach for the business. These two approaches are just examples and may well be compatible with each other however it serves as an example of a possible unalignment in your objectives.

Do not ever want the business so badly that you ignore red flags or rush into it before you know each other well enough and your trust is rock solid.

After choosing the right partner, next comes the decision making process and recording those decisions into the BPAT to further solidify your relationship and eliminate all misunderstandings about who is doing what. Your values, vision and mission statements are crucial. Use them to guide the way you do business.

Conflict prevention is better than conflict resolution, but have a plan in place to deal with it. Equally essential is having an exit strategy. Start with the picture of where you would like to end up. What will you put in place if something happens other than what you planned? Talk about preparations for all unexpected scenarios and have plans in writing, knowing that they will likely change but at least you have a starting point.

Following your completion of the BPAT, take your decisions to a lawyer to draw up a partnership agreement, including some of the legalities that are necessary.

Using all of the information you have decided upon, move into creating a living business plan. Use its fluidity to modify or change as you move along, always evaluating how the plan is working.