Business partners are crucial to the success of most startups and when you ask most who’ve successfully made it to, or over the “5 year hump” nearly all will tell you that a partnership or two was crucial to their success. There are the occasional exceptions, of course, but they’re far and few between.
The key problem when it comes to finding and forming partnerships is to find those you can trust. I can assume many of you out there have found this as difficult as I do. After all, how many overnight marriages do you see making it past the first year? That kind of thing only happens in rom-coms starring Jennifer Aniston, right?
In the real world, the success of your business will likely hinge on the business partners you choose. Strangely enough, it’s partnerships that most often kill a good business model. Fights over money and power struggles are the most common “beginning of the end”. And in most of these failures, there are usually clear signs right from the get-go that should be a strong warning that the two (or three, four, etc.) of you should steer clear of each other.
Read on to learn 5 rules everyone should use when selecting business partners they can trust and get along with:
1. Find those who’ll respect your vision and position.
The fact is, as CEO of your company — no matter how big or small it may be currently — you are the leader. It won’t do any good to align yourself with a bunch of narcissistic entrepreneurs who all think they can lead your company in the right direction by constantly arguing with you and creating a dissension in the ranks of your company. Your company, your vision, your decision. Companies need one head honcho — someone to have the ultimate final say.
Yes, you need business partners that will contribute their knowledge and skills. Those who’ll challenge you when you’re heading down the wrong path. What you can’t have is a round-table of leaders all trying to head in opposite directions.
2. Make sure you know their motivations in business.
This is so important. What if your motivations are to work 18 hours for the next 3 years, to get the business up-and-running, set on auto-pilot so you can move to the Bahamas and live the easy life supported by the spoils of the business? You can’t have partners who want to work 8-hour days Mon-Thurs and then cut out early on Friday for golf, right?
Also, if limitless growth is the big picture for you, you can’t align yourself with partners who’re just looking for a $100k per year paycheck. Goals including money, lifestyle and long-term expansion plans need to be consistent among all partners, or the business will likely fall flat in no time flat.
3. Their skills must compliment your own.
Nobody knows how to do everything. If you think you do, that’s called being a narcissistic fool! You want to find partners that can add more value to the business, above and beyond yours and your employee’s skillsets.
Who says an online business should market themselves in an offline capacity? If you’re building an online business, look for offline marketing experts to partner with. If you’re planning to build the next fast food burger empire, why wouldn’t you align yourself with a whole/organic food’s expert considering the current state of consumer demands for healthy fast foods?
4. Choose who’re passionate, educated and eager over those who’re dull, yet experienced.
Of course you need people with skills. But why hinge the future of your company on some weathered dinosaur, who’s all but dead inside after 25 exhausting years of business world domination, when you can have someone young, with the right skillset, but who perhaps doesn’t have a ton of real world experience?
The answer should be obvious. It doesn’t make any sense, but most of us who’re 30 and over have grown up in a world where we have to show what we’ve done to get a job. Education, book-learned or hands-on, just hasn’t cut it leading up to the information age. However, as most Silicon Valley legends will tell you, passion trumps experience ninety-nine-percent of the time.
5. Where are they at in life?
This comes down to your own gut feeling. Some experts will tell you that you want partners who have a stable financial and home life. The argument here is that if your business partners are struggling to make ends meet, or if they don’t have a stable family waiting for them at home every night, that they won’t be able to be as devoted to the business. Then, when it comes to startups, the need for seed money can also become an issue for the financially-disenfranchised too.
However, only you will really know what’s best. Some of the best business partnerships on the planet have come from those who’ve toiled in the trenches to get to the top (ahem, Wozniack/Jobs comes to mind!) You have to determine what you need from them, then decide if their current station in life can meet that criteria.
Have any tips of your own for finding great business partners?
Leave a quick comment and share your ideas/experiences.
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