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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Spiller

How to avoid the Common Mistakes made when setting up a Joint Venture

Updated: Dec 31

A photo with business records and the note "Joint Venture"
Avoid the common mistakes when forming a Joint Venture

Joint ventures are a great way to form powerful and mutually beneficial alliances between companies. Whether it is two businesses with complementary offerings or partnerships that lead to exponential growth for both parties, there are countless reasons why joint venture agreements become necessary. However, when it comes time to structure the deal, many potential pitfalls can befall those who got into the situation without being adequately prepared, knowledgeable, and legal. In this blog post, we will discuss the common mistakes usually made by companies setting up their joint venture agreements - from entity selection to contractual obligations - and how you can navigate through these legal nuances to craft an ideal partnership for your business.

Define the purpose of the joint venture and how it will operate

A joint venture is formed when two or more people or businesses join forces to pursue a common goal. As such, it is essential to define the purpose of the venture and identify how it will operate at the outset to avoid potential pitfalls. This should be outlined and mutually agreed to before any work begins; usually, such agreements are written and signed before the commencement of operations. Finally, it is essential that an exit strategy is made clear from the beginning; by doing so, all parties should know what their responsibilities are if one party wishes to exit the joint venture.

Choose the proper structure and entity for the joint venture.

When setting up a joint venture, choosing the proper structure and entity for the partnership is essential. Too often, businesses jump into these arrangements without consulting experienced legal advice and end up with a suboptimal result. An experienced business lawyer can help design an ideal structure and entity that best meets the needs of all parties and sets up long-term success for the joint venture. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is often the preferred choice as it limits liability while allowing more flexibility than traditional corporations and is generally less expensive to set up and maintain.

Draft a legally binding agreement that includes all key points

Drafting a legally binding agreement for a joint venture requires more than just business acumen - it requires specific, specialized legal knowledge as well. Therefore, again, it is critical to enlist the expertise of an experienced business lawyer when drafting such an agreement. Specific points addressed in the joint venture agreement include but are not limited to: outlining each business partner's respective responsibilities and roles, defining intellectual property and rights ownership policies, setting clear expectations around management processes and decision-making, clarifying the scope of business operations, establishing dispute resolution mechanisms, laying out capital management rules, outlining business termination procedures and specifying how profits and losses will be shared. Considering these critical issues can help ensure a successful long-term business partnership.

Respect each partner's intellectual property rights

Respect for each partner's intellectual property rights is paramount when starting a joint venture. By setting up an entity that explicitly outlines the roles of each partner concerning intellectual property, miscommunication can be avoided, and parties are incentivized to create additional value for the joint venture. It is essential to ensure your legal framework grants clear ownership structure regarding any patentable assets or potential trade secret information shared within the experience, as it protects both partners from future claims over the rights of these assets. Additionally, the lawyers should ensure that language is explicit and covers non-disclosure agreements and any royalties associated with using these assets. When done right, respecting each partner's intellectual property can pay dividends by ensuring a healthy relationship between joint venture partners.

Set clear boundaries between each partner's rights and responsibilities.

Establishing clear boundaries between the responsibilities and rights of each joint venture partner is essential for successfully launching a new venture. Without mutually agreed-upon expectations, partners may find themselves in precarious positions. Problems such as disagreements about capital contributions, liquidity, compensation/incentives, strategic objectives, authority, and control can be avoided if each party's roles are clearly defined from the outset. Creating the ideal structure and entity for a joint venture requires careful consideration of all laws and regulations that may affect it. The best way to ensure peace and harmony among partners is to provide each with an equitable opportunity to grow within their delineated rights and responsibilities.

Assign roles to ensure that everyone is on board with the decision-making process

When setting up a joint venture, assigning roles to each partner is essential to ensure optimal decision-making. This can help clarify who is responsible for specific tasks, but it also helps everyone be on board with the process and feel like their opinions are respected. Ideally, a collaborative approach should be taken to establish consensus among all members. This could mean having a partnership agreement that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each partner or establishing a leadership council that governs the venture. When parts are assigned, it ensures clarity in decision-making and encourages strong team dynamics by giving everyone an equal say in the process.


In conclusion, setting up a joint venture is a complex endeavor. A great deal of thought and effort must be put into it to succeed. Knowing how to define the purpose of the joint venture and how it will operate, as well as choosing the proper structure and entity, drafting a legally binding agreement that includes all essential points, respecting each partner's intellectual property rights, setting clear boundaries between each partner's rights and responsibilities, and assigning roles to ensure that everyone is on board with the decision-making process are all crucial steps when forming a joint venture. Following these straightforward steps, your joint venture can thrive and reach its maximum potential.

Spiller Law is an advisor to startup businesses, mature businesses, and businesses wishing to create joint ventures. Feel free to schedule a free consultation.


Spiller Law is a San Francisco business and entertainment law firm. We serve clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, and California. Feel free to arrange a free consultation using the Schedule Appointment link on our website. For other questions, feel free to call our offices at 415-991-7298.


The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers are advised to consult with their legal counsel for specific advice.

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