Like any important union, and not unlike marriage, finding the perfect business partner can lead to tremendous success and glory, or calamitous failure and heartache. Understanding the significance of a business partnership should move you to give careful consideration to any partner candidate. Not just anyone will be the right match, and there are certain qualities you want to seek out deliberately.
This post will help you map out some of the things you should be considering when choosing a business partner.
The importance of shared values
It is okay to disagree with your business partner. In fact, sometimes healthy debate can be constructive. But if you are not aligned with your partner relative to the foundational values that define your business, that can become very problematic. Seek out a partner who shares your values (ambition, work ethic, commitment to family or even political affiliation), and you will be more likely to forge a path for your business that feels right to you both.
The importance of a shared vision
Shared values are critical. But if you do not agree on the path ahead, even those shared values won’t really matter. Make sure you agree with your partner on the goals that drive your business. Where are you headed? What is the timeline? What does the end game look like? Why?
If you have one vision in mind (for example, make a lot of money) and your partner has another (build innovative products), you may find yourselves working at cross purposes.
Make sure you build alignment on the vision because keeping your eye on the prize (and knowing what that is) is fundamental to the success of your business.
Complimentary skills and talents
If you are a brilliant seller, and your partner is a brilliant seller, but neither of you know how to balance the books, there will be a gaping hole in your business. As well, this duplication of skills can become redundant and in some cases, a point of conflict.
In a best-case scenario, find a partner candidate who brings skills and talents to the table that are distinct from yours. Together, you will be a stronger team, and independently, you will be able to take ownership of specific areas of the business without stepping on each others’ toes.
It’s important to seek out a partner who has some measure of financial stability, especially because there will be equity at stake. If your partner is risk averse, or simply unable to take on a new venture because of personal obligations, it may not be a good match. No matter what plan you map out, you should assume it will take twice the amount of time and money, and you should seek out a partner that is in a position to take that on.
Trust your gut
At the end of the day, you will be spending many hours with your business partner. You will be sharing milestone moments and together you will likely confront many challenges. You need a business partner who you like, trust and ideally, whose company you enjoy. Before making a decision, spend time with candidates. Get to know them. Ask others (who know them) for their opinions. And ultimately, trust your gut. If something feels ‘off’, it probably is.
Choosing a business partner can be one of the most important decisions that you make. It deserves the time and attention of any other major decision and should not be taken lightly. If you would like additional feedback on choosing a business partner, contact Miller Bernstein today.