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Advice on partnering up? Or sole trader?

Hi all,

I recently took the plunge and left my full time agency job to go freelance full time. I am still in the early days but I have a few clients and I am being proactive re networking and looking for work.

I have just been approached by someone I used to work in agency with, who has also being freelancing for the past year. She has asked if I want to partner up, full time. The thought of this excites me in terms of collaboration and more brain power, and also her strengths are illustration and editorial so that would be a good balance, but terrifies me in terms of having to earn double to pay both of us; and the commitment to another person. I am enjoying the freedom and flexibility of freelancing, being my own boss, and I am worried partnering up will take this away. I have expressed my concerns. I don't want to miss out on an opportunity, as we both have the same principles and ethos, but I don't want to be naiive on the fact it's going to be an amazing dreamy journey either. I am trying to be realistic about partnerships.

Does anybody have experience of partnering up? Part of me thinks maybe to suggest partnering up but in an informal way (but still have contracts etc) and still take on our own work, to see how that goes. But then that could be missing an opportunity to really just go for it re a joint business name, website, job proposals and social media.

Any thoughts or opinions would be hugely appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Paul Murray

Staff member
I'd partner up informally, in the sense that you're both self-employed but collaborate on projects. An official partnership brings more legal issues than sole tradership, as you will need to officially liquidate a partnership should you both decide you'd prefer to no longer work together.

Start off slow, like a new relationship. Perhaps look at a shared working space and just collaborating informally to begin with. Knowing you both have another pair of hands to help out means you can confidently seek larger projects and ask hire rates, without having to rely on those big projects to pay both or your wages. If the going is good, look at partnering officially.
Thanks both for your advice. I agree Paul, and I think that is how I will propose to move forward. There are many positives to partnering up, but taking it slow I think is the best way so we don't get ahead of ourselves and tangled up in possible legal issues or the pressure of having to make double the money.

I think I will suggest a couple of self initiated projects first, to see how we work together - and then take it from there.

Thanks again! :)


Staff member
You don't need to be in a partnership to work collaboratively (big word).

I work with a guy on projects and we aren't actual partners in a business sense.
I'd hate to be tied to someone in that way. Shudder!

We think on the same wavelength creatively but tend to specialise in different things.
It's great for brainstorming ideas and we pool our talents and get some great results.

Give it a go. Nothing to lose (apart from a friend). ;)
Working as a partnership definitely works. It's always nice to bounce ideas around between two people.

I've recently set up a partnership with a friend that I worked with at an agency. It works well. We have different networks and connections so we were both initially able to bring in work from various sources. It also makes the more mundane tasks of marketing/promoting ourselves quite easy, as we can split our time across different tasks.

The thought of having to double your income is quite scary. But as @Paul Murray said: you can command higher prices and be seen as more of an 'agency' than a freelancer.

Drop me a PM if you want any tips or opinions on working as a partnership.
Hi Chris,

Thanks for your message - really encouraging. Sorry for my late reply I have had a busy few weeks.

That would be great - I will do that, we are still in talks about it but I am excited of the thought of it.

Thanks again :)
The idea of a partnership is good. However, I'd make sure you set up a partnership agreement, detailing what each of you does and what happens when someone doesn't do what they're supposed to - that kind of thing.
All too often one partner will feel like they're doing most of the work and only getting half of the money. Believe me, I know!
In saying that, 2 streams of work coming in should mean double the money coming in, and 2 individuals with collaborative skills should be a good thing if the paperwork's sorted.