Question 1 before you work together: what are your goals?
The first question on my list of things to talk about before going into business or starting a project together is:
What are your goals?
(See post #1 in this series here: https://leighchandler.com/questions-to-ask-before-you-work-together)
This might seem like an easy question, but people who are working together often assume they have a common goal without actually discussing it. For example, you might both think your new invention is a great idea, but one of you dreams of getting a patent and selling it to the highest bidder as fast as possible, while the other imagines the partnership lasting for the next thirty years. These are not necessarily inconsistent goals – maybe you’ll decide to patent and sell this first invention in order to fund your ongoing work together – but if you don’t talk about it, you’ll be pulling your project in different directions and setting yourself up for conflict later.
Talk about short term goals, long term goals, and how you’ll know when you’re on the right track. Discuss priorities – what is most important to each person? If you have different goals, explore ways to approach your project so everyone can be satisfied. And if there isn’t a way, trust that you were better off learning that at the start than after you put a lot of time, effort, and money into your project.
Tip: Before you start talking about your goals, it can be helpful for everyone to write down their answers. That way, one person’s inspiring vision doesn’t take over the conversation. Don’t worry if you aren’t on the same page at first – you can find surprising ideas and opportunities in your differences.