How to Choose a Business Partner

Many people think it’s a bad idea to go into business with a partner because you have to split the ownership and profits. However, having a business partner can actually increase your profits and overall business success. Many of the most successful companies were based on a partnership: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield- Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, Larry Page and Sergey Brin- Google, Jerry Yang and David Filo- Yahoo, Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields- Proactiv Solutions. Having a business partner can substantially increase the overall success of your business, because a partner can offer their own connections, expertise, and skills the business needs in becoming successful.

1. Look for a partner who shares your passion, vision and excitement: You want to choose a partner who shares your vision, believes in what you are trying to accomplish, and is as excited about the idea as you are. You have to understand this is the person you will be spending and living a lot time together with. In developing the business you and your partner are bound to face many stressful challenges as well as successes. You need a partner that is tolerant as well as positive during both the good and the bad times, and will not leave when things become challenging, but will rather stand up to the challenge and be in it for the long haul. Therefore, allowing the business to grow by achieving the short-term and long-term goals of the business.

2. Choose a partner that is complementary: It may be tempting to choose someone who is just like you, but this will not make a business successful, as you want someone who can bring different skills, experience and know how. No person is a master of all things, if you are skilled in finances you may want to choose a partner who is skilled in sales and marketing. The combining of different skills allows for greater innovation, more ideas, better planning and a greater chance that your business will be successful. As the popular saying states: “Two minds are greater than one.”

3. Find a Partner who shares your values and practices good business ethics: You only want to go into business with someone you can trust, someone who values honestly and full disclosure. Choosing an unethical and dishonest business partner will destroy the business. You need someone who will respect the businesses ideas, its assets and the laws of business, as you do not want to get into trouble. It is wise to conduct a thorough investigation of the partner you are considering, look into their previous business history, check their references and do a background check, which can include a police clearance, this will show if they have any previous criminal violations.

4. Find a partner that can offer the business resources: Financial resources is only one of the resources a partner can offer, there are many other valuable resources a partner can offer which can greatly improve the chances for business success, for example:

• Connections within the business industry such as vendors, distributors, recruiters, investors or suppliers.
• A strong client list that can lead to potential sales from business owners, specialists, or media contacts.
• Credentials and business expertise.

5. Define and allocate responsibilities: In creating a partnership it is important to assign roles and responsibilities for each partner, whether that is VP of engineering, marketing and sales or operations. It is best you do what you know best, and let the partners do what they know best, give each partner the freedom to improvise, as they will perform better when you respect them for knowing what works and what doesn’t.

6. Write a legal partnership Agreement: In choosing a partner you will need a legal agreement, stating the responsibilities, the financial obligations, how expenses and profits are distributed, what are the terms and conditions in the event the partner decides to leave the partnership, and how will the issues of breach of contract or disputes be resolved. There are many partnership agreements online that are free to view and some can be downloaded for free. However, each partnership is different, and it is recommended in forming a partnership you hire an attorney, who will customize the agreement to the specifications of the business and its partnership.

7. Look for a partner that does not come with baggage: A partner, who is consistent, will be able to devote tremendous amounts of energy and commitment to the business. You can not afford to have a partner who has a lot of personal issues or problems, as this will interfere with the ability for the business to grow. Constant excuses, for example I can’t make it because….are not acceptable when the success of a business depends on each partner giving 100%.

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