A business partnership is just like a marriage. They’re both huge, life-changing relationships involving money, trust and working towards a common goal. And they both carry the risk of not working out, with huge repercussions. The key is in managing that risk and finding the perfect business partner from the get-go. Here’s how to go about it without relying on the off-chance of a lucky cupid’s arrow.
Understand Yourself First
Think about why you want to get someone else on board. Are you struggling with workload or maybe the accounting side of things? Then you don’t need a business partner, you need a staff member or two. If you are after someone who can get equally involved, it’s important to have a strong understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. This leaves you well placed to find a partner who can complement these so that all bases will be covered and no gaps are left unfilled.
Values, Goals and Commitment
Think about your own set of values. What are they? How committed are you to them? Someone who shares the same values and vision is crucial. Decide where you want to go and what you both want to accomplish. You’re both going to be working towards the same goals, both long and short term. So this needs to be established early. There might be competing priorities in each other’s lives that could impact the level of commitment towards a goal. Remember, partners don’t have to share the same work schedule, but again, decide on this early.
Trial Before You Commit
Ultimately you want someone who can offer reliability and credibility to your business. Take your time to get to know your potential partner. How do they communicate? How do they behave in different situations? How do they handle stress? References can be invaluable here so ask past clients, and if possible, business partners. Another option is to form a partnership that automatically dissolves after a certain amount of time or if certain expectations aren’t met.
And don’t forget an exit strategy, which will allow you or your partner to walk away from the business, or options to buy out the other party. The exit strategy is the business world’s pre-nuptial agreement, so don’t look past it.
Where To Look?
Once you’ve established what you’re looking for and the criteria they need to meet, it’s time to start the search. There are plenty of places to meet business partners, but the best is through your current networks. Where do you already have credibility and trust? What are some non-business interests where you could ask people for an introduction? Personal introductions have a certain level of trust, so let people know that you’re in the market for a partner. If your personal network isn’t shaping up, chambers of commerce can be great places for networking, as can non-profits and trade organisations.
Finding the right business partner is a decision that will require dedication, time and effort. After all, you want to get it right. So keep these in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the business partner of your dreams.