Sometimes, the people you partner with in life find you. The love of your life might spot you from across a crowded room and reach out. Your new boss might introduce themselves to you at a networking event, and so on. Other times, you’ll need to select your partners for yourself.
If you’re starting a business, and you’re keen to have some extra help along the way, it’s a good idea to find a business partner to share the load. A good partner can help finance your company, give you useful advice, and even manage important parts of business growth which you can’t handle yourself.
Unfortunately, choosing the right business partner can be extremely difficult. Like picking the wrong spouse, if you don’t make the right choice you’re left with a very messy relationship to sort out.
While there’s no way to guarantee the partner you choose will be perfect for your endeavor, there are some important things to consider.
The most important consideration when choosing a business partner is how much you can trust that person. You’re going to be relying on this individual to do what’s best not just for themselves, but for you, the business, your customers, and everyone who relies on your company.
If you’re not in a position where you’d trust your would-be business partner with your bank account or the keys to your car, then you shouldn’t go into business together. As partners, everything they do will have an impact on your life.
While you don’t need to be best friends with your business partner, you should have the same values and be able to see eye to eye on the most crucial subjects. Ultimately, your business partner should be someone who shares your vision for the future. You don’t want to be constantly arguing with them about what’s next for your company.
Crucially, if you’re friends with the person you're thinking about going into business with, make sure that friendship doesn’t cloud your judgement. Ask yourself whether this person is really the sort of person you’d trust to build an amazing business, or whether you just like the idea of working alongside them.
While everyone has problems in their lives from time to time, a good business partner will be someone who has the strength to weather virtually any storm. With that in mind, ask yourself how this person copes with problems in his or her personal and professional life.
What kind of approach do they take to overcoming problems? If they face hardship, do they rely on others to get them back on their feet, or do they know how to take the initiative and find a solution for themselves? A person who can maintain a sense of strength, intuition, and resilience in the face of anything can be a powerful partner.
Ideally, the person you partner with should be someone who can balance out your skill set. Think about the things you can’t do yourself.
If you and your partner have all the same strengths, then it’s going to be much harder for you to divide the responsibilities of running the business. You’ll also find yourself needing to reach out to other people for help rather than being able to run the business as a duo.
While your business partner doesn’t have to be able to do everything you can’t do, you should be able to balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses to some degree. For instance, if you’ve got a creative mindset you might want to partner with someone who can take a more analytical approach to business.
While this shouldn’t be the only thing you think about when choosing a business partner, money needs to be a consideration. A good business partner should be able to contribute their fair share to the growth of the business.
You don’t want to partner with someone who’s going to be taking cash out of the company all the time without putting anything back in.
When it comes to things like loans and borrowing cash, you also have to both be willing to take on the same level of risk. It’s hard to have a balanced partnership when one of you is more invested in the success of the company than the other.
Choosing Your Business Partner
Don’t rush into choosing a business partner. Take the time to think carefully about your options, and ask yourself whether you’re really making the right decision. Choose wrong, and it’s not just problematic for your business – it could be devastating to your livelihood too.