As a business owner, you may be doing very well at managing the business in its early stage but as the business grows, you will be dealing with more clients who would want their needs met at almost the same time hence, the need for you to partner with someone or a group of people because, the “if you want it done right, do it yourself” approach may not be viable at this stage of the business. Also, no matter how broad your skill set, you’re not going to be an expert in every aspect of running your business, filling every role will be nearly impossible.
Sharing control of a business that you are passionate about and determined to make succeed with someone else can be a very difficult task to carry out because you will be doing a critical analysis of this individual. He or she must, first of all, think your business idea is a good one before you proceed to use the following criteria as a yardstick in choosing a partner.
- Find someone you can trust and rely on
The last thing you want is a partner that can’t be trusted and relied on. Both qualities are very important in a partnership because a reliable business partner will share your passion and ambition, challenge you, and bring in new skills and ideas. Also, a partner that can be trusted will be easier to work with because there will be no room for the pressure that comes with doubt.
When you’re evaluating whether or not to take on a new partner, consider testing their reliability by giving them a bit of “homework” before you make your final decision. This doesn’t need to be anything time-consuming or complicated, but ensure that they are regularly able to deliver on time, that they follow up with you when they say they will, arrive for meetings on time, and so on. You’ll be able to learn a lot from these interactions, and potentially spot any red flags before the partnership is official. If they’re the type to constantly cancel and reschedule at the last minute, for example, that’s probably a bad sign.
- Seek out complementary personality traits
Beyond skill sets, look also for partners with complementary personality traits. A founder who is quiet, reserved, and good at one-on-one interaction might do well to find a partner who is more gregarious and enjoys the spotlight. Similarly, a founder who has a tendency to pursue every shiny thing that flits into their path might be well-served to seek out a partnership with someone a little more measured and grounded.
- Find someone that challenges you
The reality is that you are going to experience days where you feel uninspired, annoyed, and just plain wiped out. One of the benefits of having a business partner on these tough days is that they should be able to reignite your fire.
Having a business partner who challenges you can result in trying different approaches, more creative ways of thinking, and a business that is ultimately stronger. “Without someone to challenge your way of thinking, you won’t ever realize that your way might not always be the best way,” says Michael Spinosa of Unleashed Technologies.
- Prioritize compatibility in terms of business trajectory
Do you and your potential partner have the same vision for the future?
“A successful partnership rows in the same direction,” says Robert De Los Santos of Sky High Party Rentals. “You must be compatible with the shared vision, goal, and purpose of the organization.”
Not only will an incompatible vision create trouble when it comes to deciding on your business’s direction, it will also make it difficult to weather hard times. Finding a business partner with whom you are compatible will make it possible for you to work together to overcome the challenges that crop up during the process of starting and running your business. “Compatibility within a partnership ensures perseverance through difficult times and sustained integrity of the business,” says De Los Santos.
- Partner with someone who matches your level of obsession
“I was going to say passion, but that word doesn’t go far enough for me,” explains Bryce Welker of Crush Empire. “I want passionate employees, but I need an obsessive business partner.”
For Welker, the difference between passion and obsession lies in one’s need to see something through for the long haul—a quality necessary in a business partner. “If I’m burning the midnight oil, I want them to be right there next to me,” says Welker. “Passion may generate great short-term results, but obsession is what builds lasting empires.”
- Don’t forget the importance of integrity
While starting and running your business, both you and your partner are bound to make a few mistakes. A partner must be accountable for their actions without blaming employees, or outside influences. Without integrity, you risk triangulating other members of your team, creating disharmony and eventual fissures.
Just as you would test a potential partner for reliability, consider doing a few small projects with your prospect first to get a sense of their integrity. Do they own up to errors and communicate honestly, or do they fall into a pattern of blame? Find this out early, as a business partner who lacks integrity could wreak havoc on your business down the road.
- Check references
Ask for a short list of people who can provide references for your potential partner, then call and talk to them.
You are looking for less-than-stellar reports from these people, or something that might be an issue later, like bad feelings after a previously failed business.
Talk to former employers, co-workers. The question to ask is, “Would you be willing to form a business partnership with this person?”