6 Attributes To Look For When Choosing a Business Partner

 6 Attributes To Look For When Choosing a Business Partner


Business partners can be co-founders of a startup, multiple owners of an existing business, or a joint venture. In each case, a partner can be an asset, bringing new skills and business perspectives; or a burden, making every decision more difficult, and taxing your life satisfaction.

You have to do the due diligence to make that decision ago you sign your equity. As a former start-up investor, I have always been involved because of the hard work of the founders, and I feel that the founders should do the same for the co-founders, as well as the investors.

The differences you will find after the deal can be painful and costly, just like any marriage. I’m excited to see this approach also highlighted in a new book for startups, ”Zero to IPO“by Frederick Kerrest.

Kerrest also brings years of experience starting and growing his own businesses from a start -up by bringing them to the public, so he has a lot of real live experience choosing and working with colleagues.

I support his summary of recommendations on what each candidate should look for:

1. Being with this person is a positive experience.

If you don’t like this person right now, feelings will only intensify when faced with difficult business issues. Watch out for signs of negative behavior or depression, as it can affect the results of your business, as well as your personal satisfaction. Make sure you always have fun together.

I find that happy people are the most positive, and also make the best business partner. A recent study shows that happy business people are also the most successful. Be aware that happiness brings success, and not the other way around.

2. Their skills and interests will add to yours.

A business partner or co-founder should be supported in style and form, and fill in the gaps in your energy with their experience and skill. Also you need to understand how to divide the tasks to the highest advantage, so that you don’t have to be sparring on every task and every solution.

In my experience, most technical entrepreneurs have little interest or skill in finance, or marketing. Thus they benefit greatly from finding a partner with expertise and interest in these domains. The same benefits also apply to a joint venture.

3. They are excited about your business goals.

A co-founder with different motivations, for example the highest profit versus good customer service, is likely to weaken you, have a small role, or leave the business immediately. You need someone who can easily get into your shoes when there is a crisis, or you need work hours.

These days, many entrepreneurs are motivated to help the poor, such as TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, who differentiates his brand by donating a pair to those in need for every pair sold. Apparently a partner who raises income is not happy.

4. Confidence is evident from his constituents.

Here you need to seek the perspective of three or more people, who are not recommended by your future partner, who have worked closely with this partner in the past. Don’t worry that you will be found cheating, because the candidate must have done the same thing to you. Don’t ignore any big red flags.

In today’s economy, with more and more employees working remotely, assessing trust can be even more difficult. In fact, many say trust is easily assessable today, with clear trust in regular and effective communication, and outcomes from relevant leaders.

5. Negotiation continues to mature, including emotions.

Having healthy strategic misunderstandings or any specific problem is great for bringing new options to the table, as long as the differences are easily resolved without emotional outbursts or lingering resentment. If you see emotional immaturity in the first discussions, trust a rocky relationship the most.

In fact, many business consultants, including myself, now agree that emotional intelligence is more critical to business than IQ, or logical intelligence. We all understand that colleagues, employees, and customers are people with emotions, rather than machines.

6. Your gut-check sees that it is appropriate.

Don’t get caught trying to speak for yourself in this relationship, based on some outside forces, such as access to money or future business connections. Keep in mind that business partnerships are just like marriages, which need to survive and thrive in the long term, at the gut level as well as at the logical level.

In my experience, poor collaboration between business partners, including co-founders, is one of the main causes of business failures and startups. Definitely worth your time to complete the real due diligence before the retreat is too late.

With the right effort, you can make one-plus-one equal to three or more, rather than one zero. Start now, and never have to look back later.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are theirs, not Inc.com’s.



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