So you have the idea of the century that is going to revolutionize the world. You are an expert in your field so when the idea needs to be modified you can handle it. You have even started to network some and are getting some really great feedback on your idea. But there is one problem: you know absolutely nothing about running a business. It’s time to think about adding a partner.
A partner can be a great asset or a huge hindrance. It is vital to the success of your startup that you choose the right partner. When choosing a partner it needs to be thought of like a marriage. This is someone you are going rely on and they should complement your skills. Unlike a marriage though, a business partner should not be chosen just because you get along with them. I am sure you get along well with some of your best friends but that does not mean they are qualified to run a business.
Choosing a partner is not something that should be rushed into either. Often entrepreneurs are so focused on getting things going quickly that choose the first potential candidate to partner with. Some get lucky but there are a lot that end poorly. These relationships can be like a bad divorce and neither side trusts the other. These types of disputes can get emotional and the litigation can drag on for longer than necessary bringing the business to its knees.
A business partner should be someone that has strengths that match your weaknesses. If you are an engineer or software developer but no nothing about running a business, some that has successfully run a business in the past and has experience with marketing, books and records, sales, and all the other skills of a business manager would be a great complement. After narrowing the field by candidates with those skills, then you should look at personality traits and whether or not you will be able to work with this person on a daily basis.
Don’t be afraid to do some research and speak to references. People overhype their skills and experience all the time especially when they see working with you as an opportunity. They also will fail to disclose their negative traits. There is a world of difference between a former business owner that sold his business to a larger corporation and a former business owner that lost his business because he was sued by all of his former customers for screwing them over. Both can boast they have experience running a business but which one would you want to be your partner.
In the end you want to work with someone that can better your startup business. You want to get along with them but not have them be scared to disagree with you on certain things. In business sometimes people that look at the world in a different way from you are the best complement to you. Overall, make sure you are confident and comfortable with your decision.
Source: "How to Know If a Business Partner is Right for You" Video by Nina Kaufman