03.14.20163 min read

Business Formation: Crafting a Partnership Agreement

The reasons why you choose to start a business with a partner (or partners) might vary, from simply sharing the heavy workload involved in running a business to balancing out the needed skill sets for your type of business. You might form a partnership based on a straight financial need, where one partner brings the necessary startup capital to the table. No matter what the reason for forming a business partnership, you should know the differences between types of partnerships, including the tax differences. And even if it’s not legally required, you should make it a point to draft a partnership agreement. There are three types of partnerships:

  1. A General Partnership divides profits, liability, and management duties equally among the partners. If the partnership is not equal, the percentages must be documented in the agreement. General partnerships do not pay tax on the company’s income. All profits and losses are passed through to the partners. The partnership files a tax return but does not pay taxes on the income. Partners show their portion of the profits and losses on their personal tax forms.
  2. A Limited Partnership allows partners to have limited liability and limited decision-making power depending on each partner’s investment percentage. All profits and losses still flow directly through to the partners, but partners don’t have to participate in the business itself. This form of partnership works well for short-term projects.
  3. Joint Ventures are general partnerships and can be entered into for a limited period of time or for a single project.

So what should be in your partnership agreement? Here’s what you must include:

  • How the management of the company will run, such as partner job descriptions.
  • The specific contributions of each partner and the responsibilities involved in that contribution, if any (there could be none if the partnership is strictly monetary with zero decision-making).
  • The partner shares assigned to each partner. These shares will probably change as time goes on, so it’s important to keep the document updated.
  • How profits and losses will be shared between the partners.
  • The process for bringing on any new partners.
  • What happens to the partners and the business if the company is dissolved? Will the business and any debts be divided? What if one partner leaves?
  • An annual review date to update the agreement.

Don’t try to create your partnership agreement from scratch. Either use an online service like RocketLawyer.com or contact your attorney for help in drafting an agreement.

By Rieva Lesonsky

7 Steps to a Complete Small Business Plan - Download Now
Was this post helpful?
Created with Sketch.
Infusionsoft cornerstone spinner
close button
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

5 Reasons to Subscribe:

1. Weekly tips to dominate sales and marketing

At our core, we're focused on helping you become a sales and marketing machine. We tap into the genius of the best salesfolks and marketers out there to give you daily tips to grow your leads, make more sales, and keep more customers.

2. Expert small business resources that cost you zero dollars

Want to go deep? We have you covered with free guides, webinars, and tools on a range of topics from marketing automation, CRM, and digital marketing to building sales and marketing strategies from the ground up. All for free. All for you.

3. We're focused 100 percent on small business success

We exist for one reason: helping small businesses succeed. We give you the ideas and insights you need to blow the competition out of the water. We serve business owners who are hungry to put in the hard work to grow their business and own the market.

4. We do the work for you

Running a small business is a 110 percent endeavor. You don't have time to surf Internet for the best small business insights and ideas out there. We'll do that for you with the best original content from our team and from industry experts and small business owners.

5. But wait, there's more!

Small business success means more than just sales and marketing, so we also hit on a range of topics to help your small business thrive, including personal and business growth, customer service, and business management.

6. Righteous GIFs

OK, we said five reasons, but we like to overdeliver...and GIFs. We really like GIFs. You're bound to see some righteous ones.

GIF of Ferris Bueler principal's assistant

P.S. We'll never give out your information. We'll only use it to send you awesome content and resources, if you're cool with that.