Much like you probably wouldn’t rush into marriage with someone you’d just met and knew very little about, choosing a business partner is a similarly important decision that should not be rushed. It will require clear thinking, a certain amount of homework, including a background webcheck, and a clear agreement from the outset to make sure you both know exactly what you’re getting into.
Before you even begin the search for a business partner, establish exactly what you are looking for. You should never just team up with someone because they happen to be there, because they are a friend or because they have some money. They have to bring to the business exactly what you need so rate any potential partner against these criteria from the outset.
As soon as you have a partner in mind, before getting too deep into discussions, do your background research. Look into their business history online to make sure there are no skeletons in their closet. There are free online tools that allow you to look at the financial details of any business they are or have been involved with that will flag up anything untoward from the past.
If it looks like their history checks out, you now need to consider them as a person. For start, there is no point in teaming up with someone exactly the same as yourself. While it might seem a great idea to go into business with someone who likes the same things, is good at the same things and who has a similar personality, this is not necessarily a good idea. You need someone with a different skillset who will complement you, not mirror you. Maybe you are creative but not so hot in sales. In which case, another creative who is not commercially minded is not a great idea. Again, as part of your criteria, you need to identify areas in which you struggle and which a partner could help with.
Having said that, while you don’t want a carbon copy of yourself, you will need someone you can get on with. You’ll know from everyday life what kind of personalities you best get on with and if you’re going to work day in, day out with this person, it’s important that you can work together without constantly butting heads.
If your business is going to be the most important thing in your life for some time, and it should be, then you need someone who feels the same and can offer the same level of commitment. From the outset, make sure your partner will be financially and emotionally committed – you need someone who has staked enough in the business that they will not up and leave the moment things get tricky. Linked to this, make sure you have legally-binding written agreements from the outset as to what is expected from each partner and what happens if either wants to leave. It’s also important to agree from the outset on each partner’s distinct roles, based on the differing skillsets that were mentioned earlier.
The fact is, you may end up spending more time with a business partner than with a husband or wife so choosing the correct one is vital. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to finding the right person to help your business succeed.