What’s more important to a new business than a great idea? Finding the ideal business partner. In order to turn an idea into a thriving business, sometimes it’s crucial to team up with another visionary rather than going at it solo .
When you’re passionate about something and deeply committed to seeing it succeed, it can be hard to share control .
WarningFor many successful entrepreneurs, deciding who to go into business with is as important a question—with as many personal and financial considerations—as a marriage. And, in many ways, it’s a more complicated choice to make.
"It is rare to find a business partner who is selfless. If you are lucky it happens once in a lifetime." — Michael Eisner Click To Tweet
ImportantChoose wisely and you and your co-founder could shake up your industry and both make a lot of money. Make a mistake, and you and your bank account will be regretting it for years to come.
Picking the ideal business partner is crucial.
If you choose the wrong person, your company could fail before it’s had a chance to take off. On the other hand, if you can find someone who’s experienced and who shares your values and goals, there’s no telling what you two can achieve.
A good business partner is like a teammate, a spouse, and a battle comrade rolled into one.
Like any of those partnerships, a business partnership has to be carefully considered, and committed to fully . That’s why it’s vital to identify the ideal business partner: one who will share your vision, complement your strengths, and be there through thick and thin.
Some of the best business partnerships—think Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak from Apple, or Evan Williams and Biz Stone from Twitter—were noteworthy not only for their success, but also for the way they combined unexpected, complementary skill sets to create unstoppable duos .
ImportantWhile not all partnerships remain strong indefinitely (such as in the case of Jobs and Wozniak), a partnership has the power to propel a business to true greatness.
I am a firm believer in starting a business with someone else. But how do you find the perfect partner and avoid clashing chaos? Let’s go over some tips and tricks for finding the ideal business partner.
The ideal business partner is someone who shares your values . Successful partners generally agree on standards regarding what is desirable, undesirable, good, and bad.
These values guide their actions, judgments, and choices.
Your values shape your personal and professional identities so they typically carry a strong emotional charge. When partners’ values align (e.g. they share a sense of commitment to family, prosperity, ambition, or work ethic) they are more likely to make congruent decisions and remain united .
"I am very open with my business partners, just like I am with my husband." — Dolly Parton Click To Tweet
ImportantYou must align with regard to your worldviews and how you get things done together. Sharing values empowers you to get along even when you don’t get along.
Vision reflects an organization’s desire for the future.
WarningWhen partners hold different visions they can easily become discouraged, overwhelmed, and disconnected.
Nothing derails a new deal like having business partners working at cross-purposes. So, it’s crucial that business partners agree on the vision –both their short-term understanding of the company’s value proposition, and their long-term understanding of how they think the venture fits into the world.
The ideal business partner is someone you genuinely enjoy, like, and trust. There is a trust continuum.
WarningMistrust is very difficult to overcome and can doom a partnership. True trust builds over time . So a sense of increasing trust means you are on the right path. When two people are truly aligned and committed to their relationship they seem more willing to work through the tough times. They are willing to help each other no matter what.
Last but not least, you must share a common purpose.
ImportantYou both align with why you do what you do every day. This is critical because purpose empowers you to get through the toughest times . You share the same driving force.
You wouldn’t settle for marrying someone who wasn’t “the one,” would you? Don’t settle when choosing your ideal business partner, either.If you’ve found someone who you think is your ideal business partner, be real with yourself when assessing their potential faults and the drawbacks of working with that person. Get as close to perfection as you can, and for those qualities that aren’t perfect, have a frank conversation to see if you can find a resolution before you begin.
Ideal business partners will possess complementary skills and traits . The broader the partners’ range of skills, the clearer the division of their labor (and power) can be.
WarningA venture founded by two programmers isn’t doomed, of course. However, if both business partners have the same skills, you’re probably going to need to seek outside help . That can cost a lot, in terms of time, money, synergy, and lots of other assets that can be in short supply in a business.
Two partners with the same exact areas of expertise and abilities are not a team; they’re redundant.
For example, no one would want to watch Miami Vice if Crockett tooled around Miami with…Crockett. The concentration of pastels alone would have ensured the supremacy of the drug cartels. As an entrepreneur, you’ll need to find your Tubbs, whose muted palette and easy humor will take your business to places you couldn’t take it alone.
"If you are passionate about something and you work hard, then I think you will be successful." — Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of eBay Click To Tweet
The ideal business partner will have a strong skill set in areas where you may be lacking and vice versa.
ImportantNot only does having a partner with different skills help your current business pursuit, but it teaches you to improve in weaker areas and ultimately master them, making the probability of success in future projects even greater.
HacksMichael Gerber’s classic book “The E-Myth” explains that there are three key roles in every business. Partnerships have a distinct advantage in that two (or more) invested people are available to perform these three functions :
- Entrepreneur: the creative visionary
- Manager: the administrator who brings planning, order and predictability
- Technician: the craftsperson
We all have blind spots in how we manage, implement projects, and go through life. Having a co-founder gives you a peer that can point out these blind spots so you can improve. From personnel issues to how to launch a product, a co-founder will open your eyes to things you might not see.
Till Death Do Us Part
You will want to find someone who wants to grow and will support your growth . Sometimes, we are not aware of the changes we’re experiencing. And, sometimes change is viewed as a threat to the status quo.
Successful and ideal business partners embrace change and growth, knowing that this attitude benefits them both individually and as a team.
"Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life" — Napoleon Hill Click To Tweet
ImportantYou will want to partner with someone who matches your level of obsession . The difference between passion and obsession lies in one’s need to see something through for the long haul—a quality necessary in a business partner.
Passion may generate great short-term results, but obsession is what builds lasting empires.
If this is a full-time job for you and a side gig for your partner, that’s likely to lead to trouble down the line . In successful partnerships each partner believes their rewards are equal or exceed their contributions. Casual acquaintances can maintain this sense of equity by keeping track of the benefits they exchange.
ImportantThe ideal business partner is a companion along your entrepreneurial journey. Starting a business isn’t easy and bumps are bound to appear. There is nothing like being able to talk to someone that is going through the exact same process as you are, facing the same risks, the same problems, and the same potential rewards.
Resilience Is My Essence
You’ll make mistakes as you go along and you might fail many times before you find solutions that work. But you’ll need to be able to roll with the punches if you want your business to go anywhere. That’s why it’s so important to find a resilient business partner who can motivate you when you’re feeling disheartened. Someone who’s going to quit when the going gets tough won’t do you or your company any good.
Finding the ideal business partner is finding someone willing to engage in proactive conflict management . When people share a close connection, competing and avoiding are not effective conflict management strategies.
Ideal business partners will use proactive and strategic approaches to conflict management such as accommodation, compromise, and collaboration to resolve their differences.
"You do not learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over."–Richard Branson Click To Tweet
You agree to disagree because you know you will have a difference of opinion at times. You have to find the middle way or have a third partner so the majority will rule in the event of dispute. Continued willingness is paramount .
Conflicts are inevitable when you’re working long hours with the same person.
ImportantAnother quality that can be great to look for in a business partner is the ability to keep an open mind . Collaborating with someone who isn’t receptive to different ideas or perspectives could be difficult. In the worst case scenario, it could prevent your business from reaching its full potential.
HacksIdeally, you will have a plan to handle disagreements . Planning ahead for potential problems will have a two-fold effect: First, you already know how to react and respond to the disagreement when it arises. Second, the disagreement is less likely to arise because you have a game plan.
Communication Is Key
If you can’t communicate well with your co-founder, you’re not going to be able to get anything done. To start off with good communication, you need to know if you have similar communication styles and preferences. There isn’t a right or wrong style, but you need to make sure that you and your co-founder communicate easily and get along well.
Having the ideal business partner allows you to create results that would otherwise be unobtainable . Using these strategies to select your next partner will increase your potential for creating synergy through a partnership that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Important A business partner can make or break a business . If you’ve decided that you need a partner in order to turn your new business into a successful company, it’s a good idea to find someone who compliments the skills you already have and knows how to bounce back from adversity.
Don’t forget the importance of integrity.
A partner must be accountable for their actions without blaming employees, or outside influences. Without integrity, you risk triangulating other members of your team, creating disharmony and eventual fissures.
"Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not." — Michael Dell Click To Tweet
At the end of the day, we humans are social creatures who survive and thrive on our interdependence. In business as in life, it’s rarely a bad idea to share the challenges and the rewards .
There are so many challenges in a business that no founder should try to go it alone , as you need someone to share your successes, and help you recover from the inevitable setbacks.
Great teams persevere, and success breeds success.
ImportantOnce you take into account all these factors, you’ll be on your way to a long-term partnership that will hopefully last a lifetime. Together you’ll iron out how to build your successful business.
What do you consider to be the most important quality to look for in a business partner?
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HackYourTimeWhen starting on a new business, there can often be millions and millions of things that need to be considered. If you want to know how to skyrocket your business, I have written a well-informed article on this topic.
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