Business partnerships are common among startups and small businesses, and it’s not hard to see why. From an entrepreneurial standpoint the benefits are plentiful. The right business partnership is like a good marriage, not only do you have someone who shares your vision but you also get help with the financial and practical side of business ownership.
Business partners often start businesses together with little planning and few ground rules. Sooner or later, they discover the hard way that what’s left unsaid or unplanned often leads to unmet expectations, anger and frustration. Partners can clash over countless things, including conflicting work ethics and financial goals, roles in the business and leadership styles.
Your business is something you gave birth to and will have to nurture to help it grow. You want a partner that will approach your business with the same level of enthusiasm and commitment that you have, but who also shares the same business “parenting” philosophies.
Here are Tips to consider when starting a Business Partnership:
- Find a Partner That Shares Your Values, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Vision
Of all the things to look for in a partner this is probably the most important. You will need to be able to communicate effectively with your partner to make decisions, set goals, and drive the business forward. If you partner with someone that is reluctant, combative, or unable to consider your viewpoint it will be harder to be successful.
- Find a Partner That Can Bring Skills and Experience to The Business
A good business partner should have skills that support and compliment your own. No single person is a master of all things business. If you have great interpersonal skills but poor business finance skills, consider a partner who understands business accounting. The more skills you and your partner bring to the business together the easier it will be to start, plan, grow, and run your business.
- Look For a Partner Without A Lot of Personal Baggage
If your partner has serious challenges in his/her personal life it may carry over into the business. It is nice to be willing to give someone a chance, but running a small business takes focus, time, and tremendous energy. If your partner is dealing with one personal crisis after another you may find yourself carrying the weight of the business.
- Find a Partner That Can Offer Resources and Credibility to Your Business
It is great to have a business partner that has financial resources, but there are other contributions a partner can bring to the business that can be just as valuable. A partner with a strong business network, industry connections, client list, or certain credentials and expertise can also increase the value of your business and improve your chances for achieving long-term success.
- Choose a Partner That Practices Good Personal and Business Ethics
Only enter into partnerships with someone you can trust. Look for someone who values honesty and practices good personal and business ethics. A poorly chosen business partner may end up stealing from the company, taking your ideas or clients to start their own business, or breaking laws that could get your business into legal trouble.
- Choose a Partner That is Financially Stable
Whether or not your partner contributes financially to the business is less important than if your potential partner is in dire financial straits. Someone in the middle of a financial crisis may not be the best choice to go into business with for a variety of reasons. Money, asset, and time management skills are critical for small business entrepreneurs and someone who has grossly mismanaged their personal or business finances may not have the skills or discipline to make a business partnership work. Worst case scenario, they may even look for ways to steal from your business to solve personal financial problems.
- Respect: A Necessary Element to Forming a Successful Partnership
You should never partner with someone that you do not respect. The main purpose in forming a partnership is to achieve success as a team. You may not value the opinion and efforts of someone you do not respect at least on a professional level. You also want to partner with someone that will show you respect as a partner, business professional, and as the founder of your business.
Working with a business partner drastically changes the dynamics of running a business. A great business partner can add a lot to a venture. On the other hand, entrepreneurs can also benefit from going solo when the alternative means an incompatible partnership or working with a partner who doesn’t have the right skill set or experiences necessary for success.
Addressing these issues up front will help you better focus on your business later. How you work out the details of setting up a partnership could be an indicator of how well or poorly your prospective venture will operate. Inevitably, some potential partners will realize through the process they weren’t meant to be.