Critical steps when entering into a joint business venture

Theoretically these powerful partnerships are designed to be profitable and act as a springboard to new markets and distribution channels.

They can likewise bring a wealth of advantages such as sharing risks, costs and limited commitment if the joint venture is deemed to have a limited life span.

There is conversely a raft of risks associated with JVs which are important to assess before charging ahead.

Determining whether your company is ready to take on a joint venture requires a robust review of your business strategy and a SWOT analysis to examine its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

If your business is geared up to taking on a JV, the next step is to take the time to select the right partner. You may consider competitors, suppliers or existing customers – or you might decide to link up with somebody new. Whoever you choose, there are certain criteria that must be fulfilled to ensure any risk is minimised.

If this is your first joint venture ensure both parties share the same outlook, objectives, vision and culture – the latter which includes ways of working, commitment to developing staff – and corporate social responsibility. Conduct your due diligence to ensure your potential partner’s business is financially secure.

Establish early on that both parties will inject the same level of commitment to the venture, maintain a degree of scepticism – and avoid being too trusting. Another critical success factor to consider is your new partner’s reputation with its customers and suppliers.

If you are satisfied that this is the way forward for your business, establish ‘the rules of the game’ and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the key players to avoid any misunderstanding further down the line.

Now find a good legal firm and draw up the equivalent of a business ‘pre-nup’. This should include the specifics of what your agreement with the other party involves – as well as an exit clause if things do not work out. Failure to do this could be costly.

Other details that should be documented include stating how and when profits will be divided and be realistic when it comes to profit expectations.

In the same that most real life marriages are not made in heaven and encounter their respective challenges, following these processes will maximise the chance of your joint venture holding its own as opposed to falling apart spectacularly.

Julie Pickersgill is operations director of Advanced Digital Dynamics (ADD) – a global IT distributor specialising in computer hardware and data destruction.

Based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, ADD’s client portfolio spans small and medium businesses, global blue chip companies, NHS Trusts, local authorities and police forces throughout the UK.