“The best partnerships aren’t dependent on a mere common goal but on a shared path of equality, desire, and no small amount of passion.”—Sarah MacLean
Running a business is a time-consuming and challenging feat. As your business grows, you need more hands and heads on deck—you can’t be an expert at everything, and it pays to bring in someone who can share the load and complement your skills. Finding the right business partner to grow your business can be the difference between failure and success.
Looking for partners who can share your vision and be as invested in growing the business as you are is similar to looking for the right employees to hire, but the stakes are higher. You need to be willing to share ownership of your business with that partner, which means it has to be someone you can put your complete faith in.
What are some things to look for in a business partner?
Business can sometimes feel like a battle. If you are going to fight back-to-back with someone on the battlefield, you need to know that the person you are fighting with completely has your back.
Find a business partner who can and will perform his role faithfully. That way you can focus better on your own role in the partnership. If your partner lacks the capability or commitment to fulfill his role, you will find yourself distracted trying to pick up the slack, and it only serves to bring down productivity and morale.
One of the mistakes we make is finding business partners that either think and act the way we do or think so differently from us. This only breeds conflict in the long-run, and partnerships like this are most likely to fail.
Assess your strengths and weaknesses and find a business partner with different skills that complement yours. This results in a mutually beneficial partnership where you fill in the gaps for each other, and the dynamics of this relationship can result in something new and better than anything either of you could ever have achieved alone.
You and your potential partner need to be aligned on the direction you want to go. Look for someone who wants to create something similar to what you want, and shares a similar vision of what the company or what success looks like down the line.
It is beneficial to look for a business partner who recognizes the value of new ideas or business trends and is willing to actively be involved in making it happen. Someone who shares the same vision, values, and goals can prioritize and plan strategies to make it happen, in a way similar to how you and your business operate.
In any partnership, no matter how compatible you are, you will face disagreements and conflicts down the line. Find someone you can talk to, a partner who won’t shy away from the conflict, and is instead willing to discuss disagreements head-on. You need someone who is willing to sit through the disagreement to find a resolution you both can agree on—someone you can “fight” with and come out shaking hands with, with a solution, and who is willing to work together and move forward.
A partner is someone who will run the business with you, so it is natural to look for someone who is capable of doing so. Find someone who knows the industry and understands the dynamics of the business you are in. They do not have to be experts right off the bat—they just need to know enough to contribute in the early stages of the partnership, and be willing to learn alongside you as you go along.
They must also have some level of experience, particularly in dealing with difficulties and overcoming barriers in the workplace. You need a partner who knows what it takes to succeed and is willing and able to do it.
Find a partner who can help you manage conflicts with employees, negotiate with vendors, handle clients, and know how to navigate the many business challenges you will face.
It is beneficial to spot and solve problems before they escalate. A partner who is able to point out these problems and offer solutions, as well as improve business processes to prevent similar problems from arising in the future, is crucial.
Find someone who knows how to challenge ideas to bring out their maximum potential and test their soundness before they are implemented. This saves your business time and resources. Paying attention to the details protects your business by helping it stay organized and run smoothly while achieving business goals efficiently.
Money is the number one reason why businesses fail, and it is a common source of conflict among business partners. Find a partner who knows how to manage their personal finances well—this is a good indicator that they can do the same with the business finances.
Financial difficulties will prevent a business partner from investing as much time, money, or effort in growing your company. Business partnerships frequently involve financial risk and call for splitting costs and profits. You want a partner who is able to support you financially in growing your business as well.
Not all partnerships have equal investments, but a business partner who is willing to invest what he can afford—both material and immaterial resources—is key. This sends a positive message to potential investors, such as lenders and venture capitalists, and they are more willing to invest their money in businesses with partners who are willing and able to invest.
Relationships are what make a business successful. Find partners who can bring in valuable contacts that can lead to future sales—these are people who know how to build relationships and are capable of nurturing and retaining them.
There’s a lot at stake when choosing business partners, so it is crucial to find someone in whom you have complete faith in growing the business successfully with you. You have to be willing to share ownership of your business, and it is better to share ownership with a partner who shares similar goals, vision, and values as you do.
Still, trust only takes us so far. Protect the interests of everyone involved by always having a written agreement. Going into business with friends might be tempting, but they are not always necessarily the right business partners for you.
Make sure you are familiar with the person you are entering a partnership with before you sign anything. It is better to deal with the difficult and uncomfortable questions now rather than postponing them until the going gets tougher.
Moreover, while we all go into a business partnership with the goal of making it work and succeed long-term, it is best to talk about your exit strategy before you need it. Ending partnerships is always an emotionally-charged ordeal, and it is best to iron out the details of how to exit the partnership when both parties are level-headed.
Consider what events might trigger an end in the partnership, how business valuation will be decided at the end, what options for future ownership you will agree on, and what post-alliance ties and restrictions are necessary.
All good (and bad) things will eventually come to an end, but they don’t have to end on a sour note. A little preparation before the crucial moment might be the key to amicable exits.
Lastly, when finding the right business partner for your business, make sure you work on being the right business partner for them as well. When partnerships are mutually beneficial, they have higher chances of success—which means you have to be the right partner for that person too.
Thanks for reading “A Brilliant Tribe.”