Business partnerships, like romantic relationships, can be tricky and are statistically more than likely to fail. However, a healthy and functional partnership can help both of you achieve success greater and faster than what you could ever do alone.
So how do you choose a partner who is going to take your business to the next level rather than sink it faster than the Titanic?
Here are my five tips to consider:
1. Similar work habits. It is important that the partnership is equal, particularly when concerning work habits. If you’re working 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and your partner comes strolling in at noon only to leave at 5 p.m., there are going to be problems. Establishing hours, expectations and responsibilities early on will help reduce the possibility of one party feeling like they’re unjustly burdened.
2. Financially and emotionally stable. Although it may seem invasive, you absolutely need to know the financial situation of anyone you consider going into business with. Find out if they need a paycheck immediately or how long they can survive if rainy days come. Someone in a precarious financial situation might be more liable to sacrifice long-term success of the business for quick gains.
It should go without saying that your partner should be emotionally stable. You’ll be spending a tremendous amount of time with this person, so you should be able to tolerate -- if not enjoy -- the experience. This person is also going to be representing and leading your company, so make sure they’re capable of withstanding the pressure.
3. Complementary skills. Never choose a partner who is exactly like you. Your partner’s skills should complement rather than duplicate yours. The ultimate goal is to find someone whose skills and talents can expand what you can do as a team. Think about some of the great partnerships you know -- Burt and Ernie, Mario and Luigi, Captain Kirk and Spock -- all are legendary teams, because they have complementary skills and are able to rely on each other’s strengths.
4. Similar vision. It’s easy to agree in the beginning but what about the long-term goals of the business? Make sure the future you envision is in line with your partner’s ideals.
5. Trust. Every good relationship is based on a foundation of trust, but it gets a little trickier when your pocketbook is involved. If you can’t trust your partner with you first born child, social security number or a key to your house, it’s best to get out now.
Mike and I have been successful because we take the time to have brutally honest conversations about finances, goals and expectations, among other important issues. Don’t forget that relationships take constant work, so make sure you consider these tips before investing the time, money and energy into a new business partnership.
Related: 4 Tips to Avoid Co-Founder Conflict
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