For my day job, I work as a construction inspector but I’ve always wanted to use my college degrees in an entrepreneurial manner. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in education.
I saw that there was a need in the construction inspection industry for online courses to help inspectors pass certification exams. I could use the writing skills I gained from my bachelor’s degree and the teaching skills I learned from my master’s degree to create helpful courses.
However, I needed some way to promote the courses. I don’t have marketing skills, which are very important for running an online business. Compared to a local business, when you compete online, your competition greatly increases because anyone in the world with internet access can compete against you. Therefore, you must have a strong marketing campaign or you could easily get lost in the sea of websites without any traffic.
Fortunately, I found an old college friend on Facebook who taught himself internet marketing. We reconnected and I told him about my ideas. He thought the courses were viable products so we created a partnership. I would create the courses while he would be in charge of promoting them on the internet.
I’ve only created one course, but so far, the partnership has worked out well. We’ve seen an upward trend in profit growth over the past year. Therefore, I’m creating another course to generate more income and reach a different segment of my audience.
Partners Vs. Employees
Partnerships have a big cost advantage over hiring employees. It’s a much cheaper way to gain the services of other professionals. It didn’t cost me any money to gain the internet marketing skills of my friend.
To get him on board, I set up a profit share contract. Not only did this cost me zero upfront cash, but it incentivizes him to work harder than a typical employee. If he does a good job, he will earn more money. If he were a typical employee, he may be tempted to just do enough to get a paycheck.
I didn’t want to risk hiring a marketer and then losing that payroll money if the business didn’t make a profit. I definitely recommend partnerships and profit share agreements if you want to keep your expenses low in the beginning.
Partner with Someone You Can Trust
Another thing to keep in mind is the character of potential partners. You don’t want to work with someone who is unreliable and not trustworthy. I knew my friend from college. He was a smart, disciplined student back then and from talking with him on the phone, he hadn’t changed. In fact, he was probably more disciplined because he learned marketing by just reading articles online.
I felt comfortable working with him. I knew that he would take my ideas seriously and work hard to drive traffic to the site.
I don’t recommend partnering with someone you don’t know well. Take some time first to get to know them to see if they are a good fit for your business. Also, ask them for references. Contact those references and ask them questions to learn more about the potential partner.
You can even work on a small project together before drafting a formal contract. This allows you to find out whether or not you can work together effectively.
Partnerships are a great way to keep costs low while bringing in talented people to improve your online business. However, you should do your homework and vet potential partners because they will be sharing in your profits.