About the Author:
Marnie Pehrson, founder of C.E.S. Business Consultants
and the International
Association of Computer Professionals,
develops products that help computer professionals market
and manage their businesses.
She is author of
Run a Successful Computer Training Business,
Get & Keep Customers for Your Computer-based Business
Your Sanity in a Home Business.
is an Internet strategist and content developer for
community-based Web sites. Her plans and strategies have
garnered clients an average of $100,000 each in seed
capital. She also offers ghost writing services and content delivery for your
Web site or e-zine.
lives on a Georgia farm with her husband and their six children .
C.E.S. Business Consultants
to On-line Collaboration
In a previous article,
Collaborating On-line, I discussed the benefits of
on-line collaborations. The benefits of working with
others in collaborative projects can be great, but
the possibility for problems exists as well. There
are some traps that should be avoided when working
with other people--whether itīs on-line or not. Here are 10
steps you can take to eliminate problems before they
references. Talk to other people that
have worked with your potential
collaborators. How do they feel about them?
If they went their separate ways - why?
- Listen to your
instincts. Even if you get a bad report
from a reference, it doesn't mean your
potential collaborative partner was the
problem. There are always two sides to any
story. If the bad reference really bothers
you, discuss it with your potential
collaborator. If you still feel bad, you
probably should not proceed. Do your research
and then listen to your instincts.
- Get an
agreement in writing and get it signed.
Although the person(s) you're dealing with
may seem ethical, when things get hairy, they
may claim, "Well, we never really signed
anything," and leave you holding the
- Clearly define
ownership - Will you have a 50-50 split?
A 40-60 split? If new intellectual property
is being created, who owns it? Clearly spell
out in your written agreement all aspects of
- Clearly define
roles - Will one person do marketing
while another does order fulfillment? Who
will do the bookkeeping? Assign each aspect
of the project and get it in writing.
- Have an
"out clause." Always build in a
way for each of you to go your separate ways.
You might allow each partner the option of
buying out the other one(s) if conditions
change and any partner is no longer happy in
- Have a system
of checks and balances in place. Even
though each party may trust the other(s) in
the beginning, things can change. Make sure
that every party involved knows what sales
are made and that no one can sneak money
under the table. It's hard enough to operate
a successful business without undermining it
with feelings of mistrust among partners.
evaluate how things are going. What
worked yesterday might not work today.
People's interests change. Priorities change.
Schedule times to get together and evaluate
the project to see if everyone on the team is
still satisfied with the arrangement.
- Have a clearly
defined plan for the project. If it is a
large project, break it down into phases.
Create timelines and goals for each step.
- Don't hide
behind e-mail. When you have touchy
subjects to discuss, don't write it in an
e-mail; use a phone call or even a personal
visit. It's too easy to misunderstand an
e-mail message. You don't hear the inflection
in their voice. You can't stop and discuss a
point to decide whether to continue with the next. If it's important, don't say it in an
e-mail, no matter how good a writer you think
guidelines will help you the next time you decide to
work with others on-line. Don't let the possibility
of problems ever keep you from working with other
people. True success is rarely achieved alone. Be
prepared and well planned, and you will minimize the
risk, and maximize success.