How To Choose A Business Partner

There is plenty written on the subject of choosing a business partner. Most experienced folks will tell you that it’s pretty much like choosing a life partner – choose the right one and you can have a blissful life, but choose the wrong one and you can experience a bitter marriage in all its glory. So how do you go about finding the right one for your business?

Entrepreneur.com offers some helpful advice in the form of 10 Questions to Ask. Before you commit to someone for the long-term, it is important that you have a good understanding of their financial situation, personal circumstances and commitment to business.

Even more important is that you align in terms of your vision and values. After all, no venture is likely to succeed if you and your business partner do not see eye to eye on matters of integrity, and on how you want to shape the business in the years to come. In this regard, the SmallBusiness Online Community has an insightful piece that outlines 10 Steps To Choosing The Right Partner, including a reminder that you should have complementary skill sets and be able to evaluate qualifications without emotion.

On that note, let me add that having complementary skills is not enough – for a partnership to work in the long run, both partners must feel a sense of dependence on each other. At some point in time, things will get tougher than you imagine, and emotions will run high. In such circumstances, if one thinks that the other is expendable or easily replaceable, the alliance is in trouble.

However, in my experience, even when you get all of that right, you are left with a critical element that, if out of sync, can wreak havoc on your plans, especially if you are a start-up. And that element is bias for action. It is absolutely crucial that co-founders of a start-up are aligned in terms of the timeline they have in mind, in taking the business from idea to execution.

If one of you is all set for a “beta launch” in a couple of weeks, while the other wants to take months to “develop the idea” and bounce-off slide decks or worksheets with a larger audience before taking it to the market, it won’t work. In most cases, start-ups need to prioritize “shipping date” above all else. And, all its co-founders need to be on the same page, when it comes to a bias for action.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and finding the right business partner for any venture is likely to be an arduous and complex task. But, if you do it right, the reward should be well worth the effort.

May the force be with you.

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