They say having a business partner is like having a second spouse. I guess they’re right, a business partnership is pretty much like a marriage – only in this case the “children” is the company and a divorce could be much more complicated and expensive. Maybe you disagree; perhaps finding a business partner isn’t as complicated as finding your partner in life but one thing is for sure: both relationships rely on trust.
If you don’t have a business partner yet, or perhaps a previous partnership failed, this article can help you find the perfect match for your business.
If you see a potential for a partnership, see how that person fares in this checklist.
Business Partner Checklist
- Do you trust this person?
If you don’t trust the person, move on. His ability to run a successful business won’t matter much if you can’t even trust in his ability to make good decisions.
- How long have you known him? Do you have a personal relationship that may affect the business?
Don’t start a business with your wife, cousin, college buddy or roommate just because you’ve known each other for so long. The Social Network, the movie about Zuckerberg’s fall out with his roommate turned founding partner is a good example of this. Yes, it’s important that you know your business partner well, but it’s also important that whoever you choose will work with you through the good times and bad times. If a business partnership might endanger whatever personal relationship you have established, or perhaps reveal an ugly never-before-seen side to that person, skip it. It’s not worth the drama.
- Do you share the same goals?
Discuss your plan and long term goals in detail before finalizing the partnership. Both of you should agree on the basics at least: the company’s target market, the product/service, the company’s culture and each other’s responsibilities.
- Do you share the same vision and work ethics?
This is very important. Don’t skip it, because if you do, you might end up working with someone so unfair and crooked, you’ll wonder what made you choose him in the first place! And it’s not just the pain of working with someone you don’t see eye to eye with… Your reputation is at stake and you might even get mixed up in the middle of a big lawsuit.
- Does he have the ability to motivate you when the going gets tough?
It’s important to choose someone who can motivate you and understand your struggles in trying to run a successful business. More importantly, the partner you choose should be able to pull you out of your misery and convince you to try again.
- What are his skills and qualifications? Or does he have the same work background as you do?
Diversity is important in building a team, right? Well, it’s also important in finding a business partner. Don’t just pick someone because of his impressive qualifications; choose the one who complements your skills and experience. If you’re the creative, then don’t pick another creative! Pick someone analytical or sales driven.
Don’t rush the process of finding a business partner. As with all steady and long lasting relationships, I suggest you take it slow. Get to know the person before you trust him to help you run a successful business.