One of the most perplexing tasks for any entrepreneur is to find the right partner for his/her business. In recent studies too, it has been observed that business partnerships receive more success as compared to sole proprietorships.
Hiring a business partner ought to be a prudent decision and one must keep many factors in mind while hiring. It is mentally exhausting to look for someone you would work closely with 15 hours a day yet enjoy their company and understand their outbursts. Foremost, it is important to understand yourself as well on what your own skillsets are and what you want your business partner to bring in terms of skills, contacts, money etc. Having said that these are a few parameters that I felt must be considered while looking for a business partner.
Let’s see these qualities in detail:
You want someone who you can trust and bank on in times of need. The credibility of your business will often be tested in the times of crisis. Running a business is like seeing all the seasons of the year i.e. the good, the bad and the ugly. You, however definitely don’t want a fair-weather friend as your business partner. It will be worth your while if you have a partner that can work along your goals in your absence, is loyal to you and capable to handle the additional workload when needed.
2) Functional expertise
You also want a partner who brings with him his/her expertise to your business. Apart from the expertise, he/she can pool in his resources too. This enhances accountability and makes the partner more committed towards the growth of the business. You don’t necessarily need someone who is extremely calculative, but someone who has a clear financial history.
3) Complementary not Supplementary
As much as we like people who hold similar interests, an entrepreneur cannot have a clone for a business partner. For one, you need a business partner that can make up for the qualities that you perhaps lack and this is possible when you are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses. Your business partner must compliment your skills e.g. Two sales guys together will tend to focus more on sales but not weigh in the HR, finance and operational functions as much. On the contrary a sales guy and a finance guy will have a wider focus on sales as much as the cashflow management. This is massive asset to have as a new startup.
Having said that you also don’t necessarily need someone who is an absolute contrast. This too shall lead to constant conflicts. The point is to keep a balance, and to have someone that will compliment your skills and make up for the gaps you lack. For Example, one partner may feel that taking risk is imperative to the growth of the business while the other may heed precaution and may test the waters fully while taking plunge. Here, while one may lack the courage to take risk, the other has eliminated variables by being prudent.
4). Good networking skills
To Scale up your business growth, you need to connect the dots and form alliances with the right people. Good networking skills run a long way in keeping the engine going. Maintaining cordial and thriving professional relations with potential clients and investors helps sail the ship smoothly during the stormy weather. Therefore, if you’re an introvert, an extrovert partner with great social skills is a necessity.
5) Resolving conflicts
Not everything will be hunky dory when you will be working together. Being in business together means having to spend great deal of time together brainstorming every viable way to bring in more revenue, cut costs etc. This means that there will be times when you will not see eye to eye on many such discussions. However, you want a business partner who though may disagree with you, will resolve the issue and would work holistically towards the vision of the company. For this, both must work together first. There is no arbitrary decision making and it’s not a one man show. Partners must agree to disagree yet respect each other.
In conclusion I see partnership in business being about two or more mature and sensible people working towards a unified vision. I shared some thoughts I had on finding the right business partner and would be happy to hear from you on what you think are essential traits of a business partner .