Types of Partnerships
There are three basic types of business structures:
- Sole proprietorship: One person has ownership and liability
- Partnership Partners: share ownership and liability
- Corporations: A separate entity from its owner, formed in accordance with state regulations
Forming a Partnership
A partnership is an association of two or more people in which they agree to operate a business as co-owners. To start the business, they sign a partnership agreement, register the business's name with the proper state authorities, and obtain a business license if required by law. As with a sole proprietorship, the partners are personally liable for the debts of the practice.
A second option is to form a limited partnership. In this structure, a limited partner invests financially in the business but does not play an active role in the business. A limited partner has liability only up to the amount of his or her investment.
Before You Start, Ask These Questions
A partnership might be the appropriate business structure for you. Both owners still need to give careful thought to the following questions before completing an agreement:
- What talents and other resources will the other person contribute to the practice? What talents and resources do I bring?
- What characteristics of this person will make him or her hard for me to get along with? Am I willing to work with the things I do not like?
- Does the person really have access to the financial resources he or she has promised to contribute?
- Will this person work the hours necessary to make the practice a success?
- Does this person have a good track record of honoring promises and commitments?
- Are this persons goals for the practice consistent with my own?
- Does this person live up to my own standards professionally, ethically, and in terms of business sense?
- What could be the potential reasons for ending the partnership at a later date, and how would we do that? (Who gets what, and what about the clients?)
Combining financial resources and talents and working creatively with a respected partner can strengthen your business and provide great working satisfaction. By definition, a partnership involves more than one person.
Therefore, it requires extensive planning and discussion before establishing one. Consider the day-to-day working arrangements and the long-term possibilities carefully. Go so far as to decide the rules for ending the partnership, if and when it becomes necessary to do so.