The Passing Lane: Passing the Competition Online by Marnie Perhson

Issue #18 Monday, February 1, 1999

About the Author:

Marnie Perhson
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
How to Run a Successful Computer Training Business,

How to Get & Keep Customers for Your Computer-based Business

Keeping Your Sanity in a Home Business.

Marnie 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.

Marnie lives on a Georgia farm with her husband and their six children .

C.E.S. Business Consultants
Ringgold, Georgia
TEL: 706-866-2295


10 Safeguards 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 occur:

  1. Get 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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 bag.
  4. 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 ownership.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 the relationship.
  7. 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.
  8. Periodically 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 you are.

Hopefully, these 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.

Text Copyright © 1999, Marnie Pehrson. Part of the original Sideroad.
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