Partnership vs Collaboration – Which one is for you?

When I first decided to go into business, I originally had a partner at the ideation stage. I thought with our complimentary skill sets, we’d be able to really create something magical together. We met a few times and started working on a master plan together to conquer the digital space. He came from a more traditional background so we could leverage that, I came from the digital space and we could combine that. In fact, the name Deux Creative, the name of my business was partly chosen because there were two of us.

What we quickly realised as we were working on this project and way before we launched is that we had different objectives. He wanted a 9-5 while I was ready to take a leap in the entrepreneur world.

Photo Credit: Ted Belton

If you’re wondering if a partnership or collaborating is for you, here are some tips to get thinking on which one is best suited for you!


Partnerships are great when they actually work. The first thing you need to ask yourself is why are you partnering up with someone for your project? Is it because you’re scared to do it on your own? Or is there truly an added value to partnering up with the person you’ve decided to do it with?

The first thing you need to think about are complementary skill sets. Do you and your partner compliment each other in terms of knowledge and even personality? This is really key because when working on a business project, you’ll need a variety of skill sets to get things done. If you and your partner are the same in terms of skills and personality, it probably won’t work. Partnering up with someone who’s different from you, thinks differently than you is an added value to a business. Your objectives need to be the same but how you get there, problem-solve and what you can offer to the business need to be different.

Now, having a partner is also beneficial in terms of alleviating financial burden and getting things done. When there are two people or more to share the tasks and financial responsibilities, it’s just easier. Wanting a partner can’t solely be based on that though, even if it’s super important.

Partnering up with a friend can be a blessing and a curse. I’ve known people who were great friends that went into business together and are no longer speaking now. Communication is key in partnership. No one is a mind reader and there needs to be constant communication to make it work.

I cannot stress enough the importance of a partnership agreement. When thinking of a partnership, we never think of what may happen down the line because we never think that it could end but it very often does. Partnership agreements stipulate all the key information of who brought what, how things are divided, what are each others responsibilities and what happens if the partnership is dissolved. Partnership agreements are legally binding and should be written up by a lawyer.


Now this is the one that has worked for me really well. Collaboration is basically teaming up with other entrepreneurs for specific projects that have a start and end date and not committing to working together beyond that. It’s basically casually dating without the commitment! For me, collaborators have been an important part of my business. I can collaborate on different projects with different collaborators who are best suited for XYZ project without a permanent partnership with them. Unlike a partnership, in the collaboration model, you don’t need to ask someone or multiple people if they agree with this decision or should we be going in this direction, the decision lies on who is the project holder.

In the collaboration model, you still need an agreement but it’s strictly a project to project thing that basically states how you’re collaborating and what it all looks like.

Collaborating is also a great way to create community amongst other like-minded entrepreneurs  who value the added expertise from others. It’s a great way to create a network of trusted collaborators and gives added value to a small business and allows it to go after larger projects based on this additional expertise from collaborators. I’ve had a lot of success with this business model and for now, it’s the one that works best for me

Your overall objectives will dictate if partnership or collaboration is best for you.

What do you think about partnership versus collaboration? Which one has worked for you and why?



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  1. Donna
    March 14, 2019 / 1:47 am

    Hi there,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It was very helpful.

    I am restructuring my business and considering collaboration. Would you say that collaboration is similar to subcontracting? Or, outsourcing? I’m researching collaborative projects.

    Can you share what is the average percentage that the Collaborator receives on a project, or does that depend on the type of project?

    • winybernard
      March 19, 2019 / 10:53 pm

      Hi Donna,
      Hope you are well! Sorry for the late reply, been sick with a cold for a few days. 🙁

      For me, I see it as outsourcing so depending on their rate (per day, per hour- which ever) I do an overall estimation of how much that is and include it in the total budget other agency hours. Additionally, even if you’re outsourcing, you also need to include in your quote to your client the project management time meaning, the overall time it takes to bring the project to fruition including the hours you’re explaining scope of work & revising said work from your collaborator before sending to the client.

      Hope this answers your question!