Connect with us

Partnerships

Pondering a Partnership?

When is the right time to enter into a partnership, and what structure should that partnership form?

Ed Hatton

Published

on

Ponder_Partnership

This Month’s Challenge

A hard-working and dedicated sole proprietor with a successful PR, events and hospitality business that has been operating for almost four years plans to take on a full-time employee. The potential employee, who offers specialist skills in graphic design, has expressed an interest in investing in the business to become a significant minority partner.

Our advice

The entrepreneur has been approached to sell part of her business to a potential employee who would then become her partner. She has requested advice on whether she should agree to this approach or explore other partnership options, which would allow her to retain her ownership and achieve growth for both parties.

There are a number of key issues the entrepreneur should consider before reaching a decision. For instance, what are her reasons for looking for someone to join the business? She is clearly a successful and extremely hard-working business owner. The business is entirely dependent on her knowledge, skills and reputation right now. This means that she cannot expand because she has run out of time to do so. So I assume that she wants someone to take part of the workload and provide room for the business to expand.

If expanding the business is a part of the plan, then what type of growth is desirable? For instance:

  • More clients of the same type as she has now? And if so will they be local, national or international?
  • Adding new services to offer to existing clients, so that the per-client income increases?
  • Diversification into new market sectors with new services?
  • Some other expansion concept?

Once she has cleared all these issues in her mind, and preferably put them down in a plan, she can consider what resources she needs to achieve her goals. Incidentally, the plan should show how much, from which source, in what time frame and all the other measurable projections that a good plan would include.

For example, if one of the goals is to expand the business by adding new services, then the person she takes on board should have the skills to add new services for the clients. Equally, if her goal is to expand to more clients then the incoming person or people should be able to form relationships and deliver the services she offers today – and probably have a similar work ethic to the entrepreneur.

Design your business structure to fit the strategy

About 50 years ago Alfred Chandler proposed a construct that suggested that the road to business success was Environment → Strategy → Structure → Economic Efficiency. The emphasis was on strategy fitting the environment in which the business operated and structure designed to fit the strategy. While Chandler was thinking about large corporations, there is still merit today in entrepreneurial business following his construct. Once the strategy to grow has been planned the structure often becomes obvious.

Now, the entrepreneur needs to decide if the proposed partner has the right skills, knowledge and reputation to achieve the desired outcome or can grow quickly into that state? If not, he is the wrong person, whether a partner or an employee.

If he does fit, the second key question is: Is the interpersonal chemistry also right? In a pressurised environment like events management the entrepreneur will probably be spending more time with her business partner that with her spouse. Many great businesses have been founded on trusted partnerships, so it could be the start of a major expansion of the business. However, if the partnership fails because of interpersonal conflict, the results could be catastrophic. This is especially true in a service business where the core of the business is the skills and client relationships of the owners.

Back to the original question: Should she offer him a share of the business? I suggest she defers that decision until she has worked with him for some time. After a year of working together they should know if the business relationship is sound, if there is trust and if the partnership adds to the development of the company. Then she would have the choice of offering him shares in the main company or setting up an operating company in his field specialisation in which he is a shareholder. The latter option would allow her to retain full ownership of the core of the company she founded.

She should involve her accountant and remember that the structure must support the strategy. In the meantime she could offer the potential employee a profit share to motivate him.

Ed Hatton is the owner of The Marketing Director and has consulted to and mentored SMBs in strategy, marketing and sales for almost 20 years. He co-authored an entrepreneurship textbook and is passionate about helping entrepreneurs to succeed.

Advertisement
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Company Posts

Success Fuelled By Partnership

Property Point, the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) along with the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) have joined forces to drive market access to a legion of high potential small black-owned businesses.

Property Point

Published

on

Property Point_Desigan-Chetty_Khutjo-Langa_Bradley-Kodi

When SEDA invited Property Point to apply for funding through their incubation fund structure, the pilot project became a game-changing partnership. The aim of the project is to provide incubation funding of R6-7million annually over three years. The Enterprise Incubation Programme (EIP) under the Department of Small Business Development awarded Property Point funding of R5 million for a 12-month programme to incubate 15 businesses.

“The goal of the collaboration was to drive market access to a cohort of high potential small black businesses,” says Desigan Chetty, Head of Operations at Property. “Point Property Point’s demand led-approach to ESD suited DSBD’s objectives to ensure that businesses are able to access markets after going through a capacity building programme.

“Property Point’s objective is to establish a strategic relationship with government to assist in contributing to the sustainability of small businesses, reducing dependency and ensuring that businesses are enabled to competitively access market opportunities,” he explains.

Access to markets, job creation, and sustainable small business growth

The major objective was to access markets, ensure job creation and sustainable growth of small businesses. Each business was taken through a diagnostic assessment and a bespoke business development map was produced.

Related: Public Private Partnerships Can Work For Entrepreneurs

“One-on-one mentorship was a successful tool to align the objectives of the owners as well as the businesses,” adds Desigan. “In addition, the focus was on profiling the businesses, enabling them to access markets through a solid sales pipeline process, acquiring machinery to increase operational capacity and also accessing technical certifications which are often a barrier to opportunities.”

The power of partnership

The biggest success story would be that Property Point has managed to exceed all expectations of DSBD, according to Khutjo Langa, Property Point’s Monitoring and Evaluation Manager.

“The impact targets were achieved in the first quarter and we have been pushing the boundaries to increase the ROI of the funding. We have added one more business to the initial set target of 15 businesses because we saw a need and a perfect fit for that business to benefit from this partnership.”

Khutjo believes that there is certainly a need for collaborations of this nature, “especially now that we have seen the results that can be achieved if things are done correctly. South Africa needs both private and public to work together to solve the ills of our country. These kinds of collaborations allow easy flow of resources and accountability, thus ensuring that everyone does what is expected of them.”

Working with the DSBD

The small businesses that are part of the DSBD intake will form part of the Property Point alumni network and we will still maintain contact through our monthly Entrepreneurship To The Point networking engagements.

Related: 4 Black-Owned Businesses Participating in This Enterprise Development Programme That Are Growing – Fast

“The DSBD team was supportive and provided oversight to ensure that programme objectives were met,” says Desigan. “The Director General, Edith Vries, attended the launch of the programme and engaged with each of the 16 businesses on the programme individually.”

“We have learned a lot from this engagement,” says Khutjo. “We were stretched but proved that our ten years of existence and proven track record qualifies us to be able to take on such projects and succeed.”

Bradley Kodi, Programme Manager at Property Point agrees. “The experience has been amazing thus far, by no means easy, but a beneficial relationship of interchangeable learning between both organisations,” says Bradley. “I strongly believe this public-private partnership can be considered a success – our impact speaks for itself.”

Continue Reading

Partnerships

Alan Knott-Craig Answers: How To Find Partners And Navigate The Partnership Territory

Most businesses are built on some form of partnership, from co-founders to investment deals. Here’s how to find partners and navigate partnership territory.

Alan Knott-Craig

Published

on

partnership-and-investors

How do you find the right partners? — Johnny

The best way to find partners is to make it easy for them to find you. Speak at conferences, write a blog, write books, do media interviews, make it easy for people to notice you. With some luck someone will approach you and voila, you’ll have a potential partner. The real challenge is knowing whether they are the right partner.

The only way you will find the right partner is if you are totally honest about yourself. The only way you can be totally honest about yourself is to know yourself.

To know yourself, you need to take risks. Lots of risks. Fall in love, start businesses, travel, meet new people, do public speeches. Keep taking risks. Sometimes you’ll win, most times you’ll fail.

It’s in failure that you’ll find out how you respond to setbacks, what is important to you, what type of people you gel with. One of the biggest risks you’ll take is choosing a business partner. If you make a mistake, it’s painful, but you then know more about yourself and will find it easier to find the right partner next time. Take risks.

Related: Alan Knott-Craig Answers: How To Build A Debt-Free Business

How do I discipline a senior executive in my business? We’ve been partners for over two years, he’s helped me enormously, but he recently crossed a line with one of our staff members and I’m not sure how to handle the situation. — Busi

Start with having a disciplinary code and disciplinary process that describes the steps to be taken in the event of an employee contravening the code.

You then need to call in your partner, have a witness present, and get his side of the story. If the issue can be explained away, problem solved.

If not, you have to follow your disciplinary process to the T. If anything, you must be overly strict. You must over-react.

You have to show the rest of your staff that no one is above the law. If you don’t, don’t be surprised if your staff become demoralised and disrespect you and your disciplinary code.

Related: Alan Knott-Craig Answers Your Questions On Money And Partners

I’m a CEO of a small business. We’ve recently had some HR issues. What’s the right response to gender or racial discrimination in the office?  — Vusiswa

No company in South Africa can tolerate gender or racial discrimination. Immediately start a disciplinary process, act firmly and publicly. Make an example of the situation. Draw a line far away from anything that could be construed as offensive, and make sure your entire team knows where that line is.

The first offenders should be used as public examples. Tough luck for them, but the best way to save others from doing the wrong thing is to over-punish the first offender.

I’m losing the confidence of my investors. What do I do? — Belinda

There are a couple of reasons for losing investor confidence:

  1. They think you’re incompetent. Only you know whether that is true. If true, there is no escaping this truth. Your only option is to find someone else to run your business. That action will rebuild investor confidence.
  2. They think you’re a liar. If you’re a liar, you will eventually be caught out. Investors will forgive incompetence, but they’ll never forgive fraud.
  3. You are not delivering on the promises you made. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are incompetent. It means you over-promised. The solution is simple: Stop over-promising. If you think you’ll do 20% sales growth, promise 10%. Get into the habit of giving yourself a margin of error. If you keep your promises, your investors will back you.

 


Read ‘Be A Hero’ today

be-a-hero

Continue Reading

Company Posts

Public Private Partnerships Can Work For Entrepreneurs

Property Point will develop 16 small business in the property sector of which two thirds are youth and women owned.

Property Point

Published

on

property-point

In a landmark partnership for collective economic growth in South Africa, the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) joined forces with Property Point, a Growthpoint Properties initiative, to develop more small businesses for South Africa’s property sector. DSBD has allocated a R5 million grant to Property Point for a one-year small business development programme as part of its Enterprise Incubation Programme (EIP). This breakthrough initiative is the first public-private partnership of its kind in the property sector. It will develop 16 small businesses in the property sector of which two thirds are youth and woman-owned.

For  this  unique  16-business  intake,  Property  Point’s  programme  is powerfully market driven. It will raise the profile of the entrepreneurs and strengthen their competitiveness, with a deep focus on market integration. The programme aims to create market linkages for these small businesses that will see them included in procurement opportunities in the broader property sector, as well as Growthpoint. It is expected to set new benchmarks for small business integration into private sector supply chains.

Related: 4 Black-Owned Businesses Participating in This Enterprise Development Programme That Are Growing – Fast

Estienne de Klerk, CEO of Growthpoint South Africa, says: “We believe in the principles of social and economic transformation and empowerment on all levels, and we are committed to achieving this. As a hands-on property owner, we own and manage our buildings – we recognise our unique position to develop small businesses to increase their access to market opportunities. We are proud to contribute to this pioneering public-private partnership designed to deliver on South Africa’s transformation, small business, economic growth and job creation objectives.”

Shawn Theunissen, head of Property Point and head of Corporate Social Responsibility for Growthpoint Properties, says:

“Property Point’s  objective  has  always  been  to  contribute  to  South  Africa’s economic growth. Using a best practice model, we have delivered positive results in our new partnership with government. This will escalate our impact on transforming the economy at a crucial time when South Africa is dealing with high unemployment and low economic growth.”

The beneficiaries of the Property Point and DSBD partnership have advice on how other entrepreneurs can make the most out of similar programmes:

Advice from Zoleka Ngema of Senzee Trading

zoleka

Contact www.senzee.co.za.

  • Be honest this helps you define your position and helps you view the real issues in your business.
  • Do every task diligently every business is different and what works for one might not work for you, so working diligently personifies the tasks and therefore adds value to your business.
  • Lessons are continuous remember & do the tasks done as these will create a cycle of growth even after the course is over.

Related: Want To Start A Property Business That Buys Property And Rents It Out?

Advice from Sibongile Shikwambana of Sandwind Coatings

sibongile-shikwambana

Contact www.sandwind.co.za.

  • Be fully present, participate and take advantage of every single opportunity
  • Drive your own business agenda; recognise that you and no one else can make your business successful
  • Build and maintain meaningful relationships.

Advice from Teko Motlhabi of Techmo Air

teko-motlhabi

Contact www.techmoair.com

  • Try to be present and involved with all the activities and opportunities handed to you
  • Ask for help from the Programme Managers and the rest of the team when you need it
  • Create relationships with your fellow entrepreneurs and collaborate.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending