In the previous chapter, we discussed about running your business solo vs. running it with a partner. In this chapter, let’s look at how to find the right business partner, should you choose to go ahead with partnership.
The most important criteria in choosing a partner is that they should have strengths that are complimentary to you. If you are an introvert, partner with an extrovert.
If you are an extrovert, partner with an introvert. Introverted business leaders are great at doing deep work necessary for the business. Extroverted business leaders are great at selling and getting along with people.
Find out your strong leadership traits and discover your weaknesses. And start looking for a business partner who can be strong in the areas that you are weak.
Do not make the mistake of choosing a business partner because he is very much like you. Many people make the mistake of partnering with people who are like them rather than hiring people who come with different strengths.
Discovering Potential Partners
It is important to partner with someone who has a similar world view as yours and yet have a different set of skills and strong points. Partners with similar world view can get along better than partners who have different world views.
I once had a business partner who was extremely religious. And I am almost an atheist. Things did not work out great between us. I wouldn’t attribute the failure of the partnership just to religious beliefs, but I strongly feel that a partner with similar world views is going to be much more easier and fun to work with than someone who comes from a different school of thought.
Many people partner with people who they’ve come across during education. It can be a great way to find partners because you know who can be trusted and who is skilful. Though most of the best partnerships I’ve seen come from knowing people during the educational phase, you need not restrict your choices to only people who you know from school or college.
I found my co-founder because of my personal brand, and as we will discuss on the chapter about personal branding, getting yourself out there can be a great way to get noticed and find the right business partners.
I found my co-founder in a meet-up that was organized by me. I then invited him as a speaker in one of my digital marketing workshops. We built a professional relationship over time without rushing it. You cannot and should not find a business partner overnight. It takes time to get to know people.
Keep Family & Business Apart
If you do not find partners from your education or from networking in the industry, you might be tempted to partner with someone from your family.
I do not recommend partnering with family members or extended family members because if the business doesn’t do well, there will be a lot of tension within the family. Many people will get involved in the details of the business and things can go haywire.
In my experience, I have seen more failures than success stories when partnerships are made within the family. Family and business should be kept separate.
One of the reasons I do not recommend partnering with someone in the family is because, if the partnership fails with someone who is not a part of your family, the change can be managed with ease.
But, if you get into trouble with someone within the family, it is going to be a life long pain, because you can never stop running into each other. This is just my personal opinion. You have to decide for yourself.
Partnerships can fail as much as marriages do and it is important to lay down the exit clause before commencing the partnership. Partnerships fail due to dishonesty, mis-communication, external factors, change of priorities or due to difference in world views.
It is better to have a plan for a smooth exit if the partners want to stop working together. You should know how to split the ownership of the assets in case of a break up.
Many business partners have a bad breakup when they discover they cannot work together. They get into unnecessary legal battles which is a waste of time, energy and resources for all the parties involved.
It might be very counter-intuitive to think of a break up even before starting the business, but it is a necessary evil for protecting everyone’s interests in the future. It would be wishful thinking and immature to have unrealistic high hopes on the partnership and believing it can never fail.
Having said all this, my personal recommendation to you is to do business with a partner. Entrepreneurship is a very stressful journey and it helps to have a partner or co-founder with a shared vision and purpose for what you are gonna do for at least a decade.