Re: Subcontracting with a friend
I would have to agree with Lee and Bridie. It does sound like you're hesitant and it may be for good reason. Partnership agreements are always tough in my opinion simply because they involve more than one person and all the differing thoughts and opinions and issues that accompany such an arrangement. Don't get me wrong, I think a partnership can be a wonderful thing but I also think it is a really tough thing to navigate in business and when it works, it can be phenomenal but when it fails, the fallout can be devastating especially when it involves friends or family.
In this case, you indicate you've had your VA business for about a year and a half and "have a friend who wanted to start one also. She worked a full time job and could not find the time to really get going on her own." So, what I get from this is you are where she is not. Perhaps it wasn't the right time for her to do this but usually when people really really want something badly enough, they find a way to do it.
"She's now been laid off and wants to pursue her business again but she wants to partner with me." Well, again that makes me question her motives. How convenient for her to hop into your business after you have done what is probably a substantial amount of work on your own and magically become a partner. And all because she doesn't have a job anymore. Ask yourself this? If she still had a job, would she be asking you this? Is her level of commitment to starting a business enough that she would quit her job to get her business started and give up that reliable source of income? What has she done for your business that would indicate she deserves a partnership in your business? Has she helped you so far, given you advice or sent you leads for clients? And the simple fact that she has even asked you to be a partner indicates to me that she has no appreciation of the amount of dedication it takes to start your own business. So, if she has no appreciation of how hard you've worked and how tough it might have been, then her perception of what she is asking of you is exactly what you don't need for your business.
I think your idea of subcontracting might be a good one, but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't work out. If she is the kind of person that expects to be handed on a plate what she is asking of you, then she won't be the kind of person that can handle being your subordinate.
I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide is best for you and your business!