Going into business with clients

Have you ever been meeting with a new prospect when suddenly the prospect wants you to go into business with them? Yeah, it’s been happening way too much lately.

Here’s my most recent example:

I’m sitting at our conference table. There’s some jazz playing in the office and across from me is a new prospect. I smile and ask him all of the usually questions.

He wanted to build a web site and a business around it. A site that generates leads. In this case, I calculate that he needed over 10,000 visits a week to make the million dollars a year he suggested.

This all takes time and time is money.

Then the meeting changed direction and instead of looking for a company to build his site and pay cash, he was looking for a business partner.

“I’ll split the profits 50/50 with you?” he asked.

Let me tell you how difficult these situations can be! Not only have you just sold the guy on your services, now the prospect wants you to go in business as a partner. This opens up a can of worms because having the capabilities to build web sites it is very easy to open and create side businesses.

In the end I turned him down.

Why? Because I have my own products I want to produce and I’ve been putting those projects off far too long. In addition, I really don’t think it’s a smart idea to go into business with people you’ve just met and the best reason is that I wasn’t interested in his industry. Flat and simple. If you don’t have passion for the business idea it’s going to be a bad idea. Even if the money sounds good.

The most interesting thing is the number of people that want to go into business just to get their web site built for free or little cost and have a partner they can count on (someone invested in the idea). The benefits for them are numerous: They get a dedicated web partner, little to no cost to build the web site, and all they have to do is share future profits. No thanks.

5 responses to “Going into business with clients”

  1. Chris, I think I might have talked to that same guy. 🙂

    I usually get 2-3 of these a week. They all sound very enticing, but now that I realize how many people are coming to me with these offers, it’s a lot easier to turn them down.

    It basically comes down to this — the great business ideas are the ones where the client makes you sign an NDA, and wants to keep every possible bit of the business to himself. Anyone who’s willing to share 50% so readily probably isn’t the right person to go into business with!

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised. Both of us are high on the same keywords and we probably get most of the same leads. LOL. It doesn’t matter, there’s enough business to go around.

    I agree with everything you said. If they believe in their business so much, they should be willing to front the money to make it happen. I did.

  3. Ouch! I’m the person on the other side of the table. But, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I think that you might allow that meeting with a professional who actually knows what he’s doing might make one want to curl up on your lap and have you just take over. It might not be a monetary decision, but sheer unadulterated panic.

  4. Personally, I mean I have no idea who or what the company was that approached you with this idea Chris, but it does seem a bit suspect to have a guy who’s developed an idea from scratch, invested all his time & money & energy thus far and suddenly wants to split the profits 50/50…


    Seems a little too eager too get someone else on board. Perhaps he’s not so convinced about his idea or he wants someone onboard to break his fall…


  5. MarkB: It was someone who wanted the same success as several other companies and didn’t have a clue how to do it himself. I think he believed Tornado could do it for him and thought 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing. That’s how I think his thought process went anyways.

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