Sage Business Expert, Ola Agbaimoni provides some practical advice on how to find the right business partner.
Not everyone wants to go it alone in business. If two heads are truly better than one, then setting up a company with a business partner (or two) has the benefits of:
- Sharing the load
- Multiplying thinking power and creativity
- Bringing in skills that you don’t have
- Providing another level of accountability
- Keeping things in perspective
- Expanding your networks
Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re looking for your new business partner:
Do we share the same values?
Small business partnerships are similar to marriages. It is an emotional, financial and spiritual relationship. If it doesn’t work on all of these levels then it is more likely to fail. At an emotional level, if your business partner doesn’t share the same (or have complimentary) values, commitment, goals, passion and drive as you do, then it is very easy to start resenting each other. Rather than working together to build your success, you end up spending more time dealing with the negative elements of your relationship.
Will we be sharing the risks as well as the profits?
It’s important to choose a partner who is able to provide a tangible financial contribution. It’s very common for small businesses to get into partnership with individuals based solely on the skills, knowledge or networks they provide. However, if one partner is providing hard cash and the other, in kind resources in the form of skills or knowledge, the partner stomping up the cash is risking more if the partnership fails.
Do I have complete trust in my business partner?
An ideal business partner should be someone you can share your dreams as well as your deepest fears with. Partnerships require complete trust and honesty to succeed. If one partner is struggling to fulfil an order, land a contract due to their finance, health or personal relationships, it is going to have an impact on the business. If the other business partner is unaware of what is going on, they will be unable to offer support and assistance. Worse still they may make the situation worse by putting more pressure on their partner to perform.
Finding your new business partner
Now that you know what to look for in a business partner, how do you find someone who matches these requirements?
Social media offers limitless opportunities to connect with people. You can join groups on the most popular platforms (Facebook, Linkedin, Google plus) that relate to your business or interests and start building relationships so you can identify likely candidates. Other online sources include forums, job boards and even market places like Elance or Peopleperhour.
Friends and Family
It’s often said not to go into business with family or friends. However, you can often find a potential business partner from friends, relatives, acquaintances and neighbours (FRAN), providing you vet them against your criteria. Whilst you shouldn’t choose a business partner solely because he or she is a friend or relative, a friend or relative can make an excellent partner.
Expanding your real world networks by attending business networking meetings, business training, workshops and industry events can help you find a business partner.
Wherever you look, finding the right business partner will take time and careful consideration. It isn’t a decision to be rushed. Business partners can become your greatest asset or worst liability. Taking your time to apply your criteria will ensure that you find a business partner who really fits with you, your business ideas and your goals.