Writing is a passion of mine which I thoroughly enjoy, however what pays my bills is being in business. I am in the business of Management Consulting and have been in this industry since 1999. Even after graduating I did not take the conventional route to work, but I started my own business in office supplies. Usually I take the Lone Wolf approach to business and I will take my idea and turn it into a workable enterprise on my own.
Regardless of whether you are running your own business or employed, you are running your own show. We have all read about how a job-for-life is dead and one should look to have several careers in a lifetime. Even if you have one of those coveted jobs-for-life one needs to be a step ahead of the herd to have any surety of being in that position for long. Even as an employee it is worth treating your position as a business and to treat it as such. Although in an employed position you have your contract with terms that highlight severance payments, grievance procedures, performance reviews and so on. This should not detract from the truth that you are always on show and being evaluated and as such need to perform otherwise a younger upstart will pull the rug from under your feet.
When in business for yourself you have to keep a check on yourself and ensure that you wake up every morning with a fire in your belly every day to run your business. You are answerable to yourself, your employees and your customers.
So what happens when you go into a collaboration of some sort with a partner? The two of you start off with a dream to take over the world with your product, idea or service. You burn the midnight oil, you forego weekends and vacations to make that dream a reality. But guess what? "shit happens". It's not necessarily all bad for the individual but definitely a spanner in the works for the collaboration.
Sometimes in the excitement of the vision you may have made a "spit handshake" only later to find yourself in a bitter and acrimonious split. Working together with someone on a vision can be likened to being married to one another. One of you becomes the CEO the other the number two. One of you wears the pants and the other is happy to take orders. Arguments are a plenty followed by apologies and make ups. Therefore when a split happens it feels very much like a divorce.
This has happened to even the giants of our times. Steve Jobs was maneuvered out of Apple in 1985, albeit by the CEO of the company John Sculley, only to come back over a decade later and take the reigns of the company.
I was watching "Straight Outta Compton" the other day and it was interesting to see how Eazy-E had not included his comrades Dr. Dre and Ice Cube in the agreement with Jerry Heller. Which eventually led to Dr. Dre doing his own thing and Ice Cube going his own way. Now you may say it turned out good as the Dr. Dre and Ice Cube went on to achieve amazing fame and fortune on their own.
Watching another movie "Love & Mercy" highlights another story of disagreements and breakups. The Beach Boys, where the Wilson brothers father Murry was fired as a manager by Brian Wilson in 1964 for his negative influence on the group. Even though Murry continued to have inputs into the group. Murry Wilson went so far as to sell the Beach Boys publishing company with the rights to their songs in 1969 for only $700K which even then was a paltry amount.
It is evident working collaboratively in a group is not easy and when there are strong characters who are the creative geniuses or the driving force, things can and will get heated.
I myself have been in business with others, because the old adage of "two heads are better than one" is true. The power of working with another individual or a group multiplies the potential for success. I have owned businesses where I was one of four as well as a 50/50 stakeholder in a partnership. In all of those I have made the "spit handshake" but ensured a written agreement covered all aspects if things were to go pear-shaped. Such prenups are even more important today where the main commodity is intellectual property.
So whether you are building the next billion dollar app with a friend, forming the next ground-breaking hip hop group or simply starting a restaurant with a partner do get a prenup, it will save both of you a lot of headache and heartache.