Regardless of the number of years you have been working or the nature of your business, choosing the right partner can make all the difference in your success or failure. It is not a decision to be taken lightly nor is it a decision that should be entered into quickly. Before you say “yes” to this (or any serious relationship), make sure have asked all the right questions, know the expectations of both parties, and are prepared to put everything in writing with the help of an attorney.
Here are nine tips to ensure you pick the best partner for your business:
- Plan to make your potential partner clear about what you need and want from the relationship.
- Provide them opportunities to tell you what they need and want from you.
- Compare their feedback with what you see as their strengths and weaknesses and contrast these with your own. Will their skillset compliment yours? It is not always wise to choose a partner who has the same strengths and weaknesses that you have. Look for a partner who can fill in gaps your skills and provide information and services that are needed that are different from what you bring to the table.
- Find out how your potential partner reacts under pressure. Insure that you can count on them in difficult situations.
- Discover whether or not that they stand for the same values and vision, and make sure your goals are well aligned.
- Determine how money should be spent by asking questions about compensation and financial goals.
- Define and agree upon the amount of ownership that should be granted to each partner and what needs to be done to earn and maintain that share of the business.
- Don’t commit to a partnership until you have strong evidence that you are able to work out your differences or at least agree to disagree.
- Find out not only if they can add to your business but also if you like them — you will be spending a lot of time together, after all! Here are some questions to consider: Do you get along well? Do they complement you? Do they have a good sense of humor? How good is your communication? Are they forthcoming with information and transparent about themselves and their activities? Can you be transparent and honest with them? Are they authentic and honest? Do they have the strength of character to admit their mistakes and take responsibility or are the constantly blaming others?
Once you are sure that you and your potential partner are in agreement on how the partnership will work, make sure you put in writing the terms under which the partnership will exist and also how it will be dissolved if either partner wishes to retire or cash out for any reason.
"Look for a partner who can fill in gaps your skills and provide information and services that are needed that are different from what you bring to the table."
Consider giving it a trial run first, and check your potential partner’s references, if possible. Invite them into the business on a trial or temporary basis. This could reveal different facets of the relationship (both good and bad) that you had not considered.
After all your questions have been answered to your satisfaction, look for good chemistry — that internal feeling … those voices in your head — that often give you a clue about the correctness of a decision. Listen to yourself, and don’t ignore your gut!
If you have asked and answered all your questions, taken the time you need to consider all aspects of the partnership relationship, and determined that both your heart and mind are telling that this is right, there is a good chance you are selecting the right partner for your business and are on the course for success.
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