Going into business with a business partner can easily be compared to getting married. Both relationships require a great level of commitment, respect, honesty, decision-making and passion. Truth be told, a business partnership is actually harder to maintain than a marriage, and statistics show a much greater percentage of failed business partnerships than divorces. Picking the right business partner is a crucial part of the business journey and is something we encourage business owners to put more thought into.
Is this the one?
Choosing the right business partner is a vital part of maintaining a good business relationship and may be the difference between a successful business venture or a business “divorce”. Often when starting a business, we are blinded by our vision for the future that we overlook the “red flags” that are immediately present before us.
So, how can you be sure that you’ve picked the “right one” when it comes to your business partner? You can start off by asking yourself the below list of questions:
- Does this partner have the skills, expertise, and experience to compliment that of your own?
- Does this partner share your same values, spirit, and vision when it comes to the business?
- Could you put your trust in this partner? Can you rely on them?
- Could this partner offer something valuable to the business? Can they bring additional connections, networks, or success?
- Does this partner have strong ethics, both in their business and personal life?
- Can this partner communicate openly and honestly?
This last point stands as one of the most important qualities to look for in a business partner. Choosing a partner with integrity and accountability will create a smoother path for your business. Having the ability to own up to errors, communicate honestly and then learn from these mistakes is a vital part of any business. In fact, your business cannot grow without it.
Toll of the daily grind
Even in circumstances where you feel you have found the perfect partner, much like a marriage, it is inevitable for business partnerships to go through issues, disputes, or conflicts. These might occur for a number of reasons including cash flow issues, disputes with stakeholders, lack of communication or miscommunication, differences of opinion and loss of trust, just to name a few.
There is, however, some comfort in acknowledging that business is not going to be filled with sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. Rather than fearing the unknown, comfort can be drawn from knowledge that things don’t always go to plan and by planning for the unexpected. What if one shareholder wants out, how do we value the business, what if I want to merge and my business partner doesn’t? These are all questions that can be answered ahead of time by having the difficult conversations early and putting the outcome of those conversations on to a piece of paper.
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