I am very fortunate to have a close friend as my business partner. Zach Bohannon and I run Molten Universe Media. We co-write and podcast together, in addition to running author events and services. Because we are known as collaborators in the independent author community, we are always being asked this question: How do you find a business partner?
The short answer is that you can’t unless you are trying. As we know, the author life can be a solitary experience. Technically speaking, you can write a novel and publish it on your own without ever having to work with another person in the process. Although we don’t advise this because it is almost impossible to edit your own work, it can be done.
These days, I interact with a small team of people who help me publish my stories. I have to hire editors, proofreaders, and graphic designers. Without this team of professionals who are each doing a specific task, it would be difficult for me to publish a book on my own.
But even more importantly, having a business partner can help in so many other ways. Whether it’s sharing the responsibility of a co-written novel, or making decisions together about how to market a title, it helps to have someone else’s perspective and ideas.
Some of the best popular music of the twentieth century was created by teams. Tyler and Perry. Lennon and McCartney. Hall and Oates. Millie and Vanilli (sarcasm). In all seriousness, having a business partner can accelerate your growth and take your writing career to the next level.
Zach emailed me after reading some of my fiction, and we quickly became friends. It took years before we began working together. Unfortunately, starting a business relationship by emailing authors whose books you’ve read is probably not the most efficient and effective way of finding a business partner.
Some of our friends have used social media for this, but again, it’s not ideal. It takes a long time to get to know someone when all you do is like their posts on Facebook. At its core, social media is not very social. Unless you live in the same town as another writer, it’s hard to develop a friendship which could then blossom into a business partnership.
Masterminds provide fertile ground for developing these types of friendships and business associations. Because of the expected accountability—showing up in the mastermind group regularly—you begin to get to know people authentically.
In the mastermind groups that I run, attendees tend to show up 10, 15, or even 20 minutes before the session starts just to chat and catch up with each other. The cumulative effect of that over time is that people get to know each other, and in that process, begin to identify future potential business partnerships.
Forming a business partnership is always a risky venture, and no one forms a partnership expecting it to dissolve. Much like marriage, some business partnerships will fail, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth forming.
I’ve encouraged members of mastermind groups to get to know each other, and if they seem compatible, to consider a small-scale project to see if they would make good business partners. For writers, testing this level of commitment can be low-risk and low-cost.
I always recommend that writers who are considering going into business together start by co-writing a short story or a short essay. Then, publish that piece somewhere publicly. By doing so, you’re mimicking the larger-scale process of writing and publishing books together. What you have to do for a short story you will have to do at a bigger scale for a novel. This business partnership pilot or beta test will almost certainly illustrate whether you and the other author would be good business partners.
Thinking back to the social media example, you can see how difficult this would be when all you’re doing is interacting with someone’s posts on Facebook. Without seeing them and talking to them, building a relationship, it is almost impossible to determine if they would be a good business partner for you. And even though there is no guarantee every potential partnership will succeed, if it is beginning from a friendship that started within a mastermind group, your chances of success are much higher.
By keeping a mastermind group to 12 people or less, everyone can get to know each other. It doesn’t mean that every person in the mastermind group is going to be a fit for you as a business partner, but you will get to know all of these people in the same amount of time it would take you to get to know one person in the same way.
I encourage mastermind participants to take the relationship offline. I suggest they communicate outside of the regularly scheduled meetings so they can get to know each other personally. Some members of the mastermind group have formed multiple partnerships, working on one project with one person and on another project with someone else.
There is no right or wrong way when it comes to finding a business partner, although I tend to believe having one can accelerate your career in a way that being a solo artist cannot. Without a consistent structure or a large pool of like-minded people living in your town, there aren’t many options for seeding these types of relationships. Mastermind groups, in addition to so many other benefits, can be where partnerships are forged, some that can last a lifetime. Want to take your writing chops and business savvy to the next level? Check out The Author Success Mastermind group at https://theauthorsuccessmastermind.com/join/