If you partner up with the wrong person, someone with a different vision for the business, instead of moving forward faster, you might end up going nowhere.
Danny and I don’t always see eye to eye, but we do have the same basic set of personal values, and more importantly, we do have the same vision for the studio. When we have a disagreement, remembering that we’re on the same team trying to move towards the same goal helps us overcome our disagreement. Before you start a partnership, get to know your potential partner first to see if he sees the world like you do. Additionally, get a clear sense of how you would solve conflict.
The biggest benefits of having a partner are, of course, sharing the responsibilities of running the business. If you’re the artist, this can allow you to focus on your art. Running both the art and the business side of a business can quickly turn the very thing that you enjoy into a burden.
When you partner with someone with a different and complimentary skill set, it is amazing how fast you can move. There is no common skillset checklist for every artist or business partner. Depending on the needs of your business, you can start looking for a potential partner by seeing what skills you need and what skills you offer.
A lot of people start partnerships with their friends. If you are considering partnering with a friend, it is good to keep in mind that doing so will change the nature of the friendship: it could either destroy your friendship or bring it to new level.
Having a partner offers accountability — somebody to keep you motivated. With any endeavor we take on, there will be times when things get hard and we’re tempted to quit. Having a committed partner keeps you going.
Good partners also provide an honest sounding board for ideas. No matter what type of art you do and what route you are thinking of taking, you should always explore more ideas. A partner should be a source of honest, objective feedback, not someone who will not only pat your shoulder, but will also provide constructive criticism. This should work both ways.
Here is an example from our business: In 2010, I suggested that we should offer the body painting photo shoot experience to the general public. Up to this point, Danny only did the photo shoot to create images that he could use for his portfolio and potentially sell them as art prints. However, I didn’t see people buying these prints or photos.
The main challenge here was to get my partner out of his comfort zone. However, Danny didn’t see it that way. He was very protective of his art, and like most artists, it was hard for him to be challenged to make changes and try something new.
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