Choosing the right business partner can make or break your business idea. In fact, if your business grows it can mean that you will be forced to work with your partner side-by-side for the next five, ten or even twenty years. That’s why you should think your choice over a few times. The eight ways to choosing a great business partner will help you make a choice that will make your business thrive.
1. Think, whether you can employ your potential partner
Do you really have to give someone stake in your business? And why is that? Are they offering you skills without which your business cannot function? Or are they funding it? If there is no reason for taking a partner and you can afford to employ someone as employees, it is better to avoid sharing ownership in your business. Especially, if there are a few other differences between the two of you which may create psychological competition.
2. Ask yourself why do you need a partner
When choosing a business partner, you should focus on choosing someone who can bring into the business the skills that you lack. This means that if you are a charismatic negotiator but lack some technical skills, you should look for someone who can fill in that gap for you. Similarly, if you can’t close a single sale you should look for a sales rock star. Of course, make sure that your business really needs the skills that your future business partner can bring into it. And, ensure that their qualifications compensate your decision of giving them part of your business.
3. Take a look at ethics. Both business and personal
Ethics can be crucial when you are on your way to achieving business success. Make sure that you can trust your future business partner. Make a due diligence. Remember that even the strongest friendships have been many times severely damaged or even destroyed due to business problems (or success) – and here you will be cooperating with a complete stranger. Make sure that your future business partner has strong character, but will not try to dominate you or even get rid of you from your own company.
4. Check your future partner’s background and life situation
You don’t want a business partner who has financial hardships or is undergoing a divorce or any other difficult life situation. Even if now your business is all flourishing it may all change in a blink of an eye, and you will need strong support from your business partner – make sure that he will be there to help you and won’t be busy dealing with his own personal crisis. The financial situation is even more important when you are building a startup which may be demanding in terms of funds in the very beginning. Awaiting profits may be a very stressful time, and you will need someone reliable without a huge mortgage to distract them.
5. Let your future partner check you.
Let your future business partner ask questions, encourage him to do so. Check what kind of questions about business and about you the potential candidates are asking. This will show you what kind of person each of your potential candidates is and what are his values and expectations. This is especially important if they overestimate or underestimate you or your business – you don’t want either of this as it may cause you a lot of trouble should the company face any difficulties.
6. Test your potential business partners.
If you can, you should find an opportunity to spend some time with your future business partner, without giving them any shares in your business. For example, choose a task which has to be completed and either delegated to them (even for a fee) or work on it together. If you’re already an established company it will be much easier than if you were just a startup but even then you can invite your future business partner for a brainstorming session or work on business strategy together. Make partners out of your current employees – that practice is quite common in new companies which cannot afford to pay salaries and risk losing their valuable companies. If that’s your case, consider offering your employee shares in your business.
7. Look for roles which you can assign to your future business partner
When you go over the list of future positions which are required for your startup, make sure that you have a clear understanding of what exactly will you expect in such position. This should give you a hint about which what kind of business partner you should be looking for.
8. Imagine this time your idea failed
Not every business is a success. What would you like your business partner to be in the worst hour for every entrepreneur – when it’s all over, and you know that your company has failed? Particularly for startups, this can be one of the most significant features. Not every startup will succeed, but if you fail three times, you will have three great opportunities to win the fourth time. It would be great if your business partner was still at your side.
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