Finding the perfect business partner for your startup is akin to finding the perfect bride or bridegroom! The ideal partner must complement your skills set, be trustworthy and have the same drive for continuous improvement as you have. It’s a tall order and one that cannot be taken lightly, but it will result in good dividends.
In this post, we’ll see what it takes (or what to avoid) to select a great business partner.
Get Ready for Marriage
When you take on as a business partner, it’s like getting married to somebody. Business is a serious thing, so don’t take this aspect lightly. In fact, you may have to spend more time with your business partner than with your spouse (if you are married), especially at the start of the business partnership. At the beginning of your business the issues that crop up may seem light but as time goes by they may become big problems that will make both of you volatile and stressed out. So spend a time to know your partner well and only when you have formed a firm opinion of him (or her), go ahead. Be careful that you don’t tie up with a person who may later become your enemy and steal your business secrets!
Define Clear Roles
The partners must have clear-cut goals. Both the firm’s ideology and work ethics must be a shared responsibility. Hear out your new partner and if his suggestions are good, use them without giving it a second thought. If you feel he’s wrong, don’t hesitate to point this out to him. There should be no misunderstanding between you two. Your commitment and vision must be aligned with his and the duties and responsibilities of both have to be crystal clear. You cannot afford to have any ambiguity. At the outset ensure who will be responsible for what. The last thing you’ll want is to trample on each other’s feet.
Your Partner is Not You
Don’t take on a partner who is a mirror image of yourself and has the same skills. Your partner must possess talents that complement yours. Taken together, your abilities will help you to gain success in business. There’s also a psychological reason for this: A partner who thinks like you, talks like you, behaves like you and has the same likes and dislikes will soon become a partner you abhor! The key word here is ‘complement’ – a partner whose skills match yours and balances things; like two sides of a coin that make a perfect fit!
A Startup’s Different
Work at a startup is quite different than work in a corporate atmosphere. A partner who was a star in his earlier company, may not be suitable for a startup. But if he’s good material show him the ropes of a startup and the precise role he has to play. Sometimes it’s more difficult to get on with one person as compared to working well with a host of colleagues in a big company.
Caution Before Cure
When you plan your startup with one partner, speak to people who have experience of startups with partners. Their advice can be invaluable. Getting to know the background, the reputation, and true skills of your would-be partner will help you immensely in your initiative. Also, it will help avert future problems, if they do pop up.
Make it Legal
It’s imperative that you take the help of an attorney to draw up a working agreement. This will be your startup’s foundation and will define everyone’s responsibility in the firm. A legal agreement, preferably a written one, is essential for any business especially for start-ups with two partners. You have to face the facts: Like husband and wife, problems will surface from time to time and if they get really bad, the law is there to protect you.
Don’t Get too Personal
Becoming friendly on a personal basis with your partner has its advantages as well as disadvantages. Be friendly but draw the line somewhere so that either of your personal lives doesn’t get messed up. It’s a fairly common thing to mix business with leisure and so a bond may tie your partner’s family and yours together in the course of time. But be wary of these partnerships. Greed of money, as they say, is at the root of all evil. So don’t take a chance.
Be on the Same Page
Speak the same language. Your partner may feel that a 30-minute skim on the Web is fine, and you feel research should be of at least three hours of checking and telephone calls. So make sure how research must be done in your startup. Make this clear to your partner. Ask yourself, what does a new partner’s meaning of success mean? You may have definite goals, your partner may think otherwise. So both of you must understand the meaning of achievement and what it takes to accomplish it.
Have a Conflict!
In every business partnership, conflicts are bound to happen at frequent regularities. How you handle a conflict will be a test of your partnership. You must learn from a conflict and ensure that it’s a way to go forward in your business. Don’t allow it to causes fissures in your startup. When you and your partner believe that intensive discussions will solve the problem, it will be a positive for you.
Attend a Startup Weekend
Attend a Startup Weekend. Three days of complicated and highly stressful tasks will do wonders to you and your team. It is a way to know how people work well under pressure, how effective we can be a short period and how to relate to others. You and your partner must attend this meeting for it’s vital that you are together in this tough event. Above all, your partner’s true potential will show up here.