“I want to become a partner.”
Lawyers hear this all the time from newer members of their firm. Doctors, too, hear it from junior members of their medical group.
Partnership is, it appears, the Holy Grail that, once grasped, results in eternal professional success.
But what does partnership really mean? People focus on the upside, or, actually, the imagined upside. They rarely stop to wonder what that upside might actually be. And they rarely, if ever, focus on the downside: the liability and the responsibility that comes with ownership.
I once had a partner who commented that it would be cheaper to make Bob, not his real name, a partner because we could then pay him less.
That comment triggers at least two thoughts: First, there may be tremendous problems in a professional practice if it cannot distribute a greater reward to its owners than to its employees. And second, “partnership” in some instances might be some type of scam.
Be careful about what you wish for. Those holding the keys to your “success” might be all too willing to hand them over to you.