Consulting ettiquette filter: what would Emily Post suggest?
May 3, 2014 6:51 AM   Subscribe

While we are both looking for full-time work, a friend suggested starting a consulting business. Our skillsets are complementary and we like each other, so I said yes. She has worked as a consultant before, but I have not, so I have questions if you have worked in a consulting partnership.

Obviously, if I take on some pro bono work in a particular area, I wouldn't expect her to participate, but if I am offered some contract work for pay independent of the consulting partnership, do I share the work and the revenue? Just the revenue, if it's not something she feels comfortable doing? Is it common to have multiple kinds of relationships with different clients, or should I expect as the business grows that most work will flow through the partnership?

I ask because right now, I have been networking like a fiend in search of my next job, and some of the connections I've made have offered pro bono opportunities that could round out my skills in essential ways, and contract work - so I didn't solicit them on behalf of the partnership, but I don't want to inadvertently screw my new partner. Advice?
posted by deliriouscool to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Good communication. Talk it out with your partner. You want to avoid her finding out later and having feelings about it--that will potentially create mistrust and hurt your partnership.
posted by Murray M at 6:55 AM on May 3, 2014

You need to work these details out with your friend. And put them in a written contract.
At the moment you can't possibly be in a partnership yet because you have no idea what this partnership entails! So do the work you've been offered for yourself for now. Inform your friend.
Agree on an official launch date for the partnership, by which time you should know what she expects.
posted by Omnomnom at 7:02 AM on May 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

A friend and I were both consultants. We each had our own individual (Schedule C) consulting business. When an opportunity arose for us to work together, we would write a joint proposal and agree on the budget. One of us (usually the one with best relationship with the client) would take the lead who would get the money from the client. The other partner would be hired by the first as an independent consultant with an agreement that we would split profits after expenses. You can decide the split ahead of time (eg. 50/50) or pro-rate it based on effort. (Track hours as you would for client and split based on ratio of hours worked). The understanding behind the split was that we shared the risk and reward of the project as partners, but the agreement was invisible to the client.
This let us adjust for each opportunity plus it is simple to do and there was nothing to unwind when we went on to other things.
posted by metahawk at 7:45 PM on May 3, 2014

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