Should you get a business partner?

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Nichole Schoener + Frannie Wilson | Co-Founders of Ampersand StudiosNichole Schoener + Frannie Wilson | Co-Founders of Ampersand Studios

The most common questions/comments that we get at networking events and conferences is “I wish I had a business partnership like you two!” followed by a plethora of follow up questions. So, we decided to put all of those answers together for you so that you can make the decision for yourself if a business partner is a good decision for you!


  • Someone to celebrate with, and someone to commiserate with. In both circumstances of highs and lows, it’s super valuable to have an equal party there to share in the experience. Of course you may have your spouse, friends, sister, mom, facebook group, mastermind, etc. But nothing comes close to a business partner.

    Often times we celebrate wins or vent about the fires we put out to our spouses, and that can be helpful but they will never REALLY understand what we’re going through or be able to properly troubleshoot an issue. Having a good business partnership is the best when things get really heavy and you need someone to push you through. And it’s even better when everything is amazing and you just landed that big deal client!

  • You can actually leave and know that things will get handled. The reason most people become entrepreneurs usually has something to do with freedom. But we’ve got bummer news for you- if you are the business owner, you NEVER get to clock off. You can come pretty darn close if you have a partner who can hold down the fort. We are always ready to take over the emails, calls, and open projects for the other person when they’re taking some much deserved time off… and we only interrupt if it’s an absolute emergency. So, having a partner means you get to take a vacation, have a baby, and unplug from time to time, and know that the place won’t burn down.


  • This is something that we feel can work well several different ways. For us, we both do everything… we divide projects/clients. So, one person is the “captain” of each job, and the other helps when needed. We discuss new clients workload, we second shoot for each other, and 100% of the money goes back into the business and is distributed equally.

  • When it comes to the behind the scenes of the business, we recommend splitting up the roles between each other. Don’t double dip- everything should clearly be defined as one person’s responsibility. For example: ONE person should handle all of the bookkeeping/financial tasks, and the other person should NEVER mess with it! Aside from sending invoices to our own clients, for the first 5 years- Frannie handled all of the books. Someone needs to always know where it’s at, what needs to be done, and have their own system for this. Of course you should share reports with your partner, talk about money and set budgets together- but when it comes to taxes, data input, and reconciling accounts, you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen. Finally, we were able to outsource all of that boring stuff to people who love finances (our amazing accountants at Blueback Accounting! THANK YOU!) and we definitely recommend off-loading anything you can the minute you can afford to.

  • We generally just look at the upcoming calendar and workloads to decide who takes on a new project when we get an inquiry, and we’re always willing to jump in and help when we can sense that the other person is getting over-worked. Busy seasons ebb and flow, so we do our best to keep a balanced workload- but that’s often not the case. We know that if one person is busier than the other for a block of time, the tables will turn soon enough.


  • It’s so funny how often people ask us this! And while we don’t always agree, we actually don’t fight. if you truly respect your partner, you’re willing to hear them out when they disagree with you. we also are comfortable enough with each other that we can put out some crazy-off-the-wall idea that we have and be okay if they think it’s dog shit! usually it goes something like this:

    • Partner #1: “What if we did this crazy thing!”

    • Partner #2: “That’s a terrible idea. Did you think about this, this, this, this, this, and this that would never work?”

    • Partner #1: “shoot. you’re right. haha well that was a fun thought for a second!”

  • The thing that we credit our longevity to is that we actually weren’t friends before we started our business… so our relationship started out professional. Of course it grew into friendship. Our kids are bffs, we have taken many vacations together, and we share everything with each other. But work will always be a part of our conversations, and since we both love what we do so much, we’re okay with that!


  • I know we’re talking a lot about trust and integrity… but we’ve seen a lot of people get burned in partnerships before. They can end like a way more expensive divorce, drag on for years, and leave all the children (your clients and employees) wondering what the hell to do next! So- it’s definitely a good idea to protect yourself.

  • When you go in for your business entity permit, you’ll also file articles of organization. This is where you say who owns what percent of the company. If you’re bringing on a partner into your pre-existing business, you could give them 49% and keep 51% so that you always have that little decision making power. Don’t abuse it, but that could protect you if you ever wanted to part ways. But, you should also have your lawyer draft an agreement that states what each person’s piece of the pie looks like, and what they’re expected to do.

  • If you properly set these expectations, then you should stand down and let each partner work how they work best. Don’t micro-manage, and don’t let the little things get you down. for example- Nichole is a morning lark, and Frannie is a night owl. We work best at very different times of day, and as long as all the work gets done- there is plenty of time for us to come and go as we please and while one person might be getting a massage, the other could be on a job.

  • Speak up in a respectful way and get to the point if you feel the other person is slacking. If you feel like it’s getting really bad and they’re riding your coat-tails, that’s not okay. You can politely say, “Look, i can see that you’re not 100% here. You’re hot and you’re cold, you’re up and your down… All the Katy Perry things. Are you in this with me or would you like to move on?” It might not last forever, and you don’t want a partner who doesn’t want to be there. So set them free if they’re not into it anymore, and try to remain friends.


  • Keep track of which person is working more/harder.

  • Make sure that you personally take credit for your own wins rather than letting the company as a whole take credit.

  • Keep track of which partner is bringing in more money.

  • Never help your partner out with their projects when you have spare time.

  • Definitely don’t establish clear roles or expectations up front.

  • Divide and conquer projects. Whatever you do- do not collaborate or communicate with each other.

  • Obviously, you should for sure steal from the company.