Do You Know How to Choose the Right Business Partner?

We’ve all heard stories about bad breakups between business partners.  Maybe you’ve even been a part of a stressful business partner relationship.  Having a business partner can be your biggest source of stress or your biggest asset, depending on how you go about the relationship.

Step one of a successful business partner relationship is committing to working with the right kind of person.  Not only is this the first step, but it’s by far the most important step. For that reason, this article focuses solely on how to go about selecting the right business partner.

The primary factor to consider when deciding if you can build a successful business with somebody is:

‘Do you trust this person?’

If the answer to that question is anything but a firm “Yes.”, then this person is probably not the right business partner for you.

If the person passes the ‘trust filter’, that’s a great start.  Maybe you have multiple potential business partners in mind. Or maybe, it’s just one person in mind, but you really want to think through your decision of building a business with this person (or not).  What other ‘filters’ should you put potential business partners through?

A crucial, and often overlooked factor, is whether you like being around this person.  People tend to want to separate their business and personal lives completely. This is idealistic and not based in reality.  

If you build a business with somebody, you will spend a lot of time with this person.  A lot of time.  

For hiring employees, a general rule of thumb that I use is, “If you wouldn’t want to spend a day on the water, in a boat, hanging out with this person, don’t hire them.”  This concept is even more applicable for your business partner.

The third critical filter to put a potential business partner through is their ability to stay logical and hear feedback without taking offense.  It is extremely difficult to brainstorm, problem solve, and make major decisions when one or more business partners are more outwardly intouch with emotion than logic.

On the contrary, working with someone who prefers to make the decision that he/she thinks will have the most positive impact on the company can be enjoyable and fulfilling.  When everyone can be direct and honest, problem solving becomes effective, efficient, and oftentimes satisfying.

When both (or all) business partners are aligned in their mission for the company to succeed, as opposed to pushing personal ideas and agendas to “win” or “be right”, a company can flourish.

Details such as distributing responsibilities, deciding what direction to take the company, and day-to-day decisions come together organically when you put in the ground work to choose the right business partner.

So get out there and build your business.  Vet your potential business partners. Put them through the ‘filters’(whether it’s in your head or on paper).  Choose someone who you trust. Choose someone who you like. And choose someone who can take feedback and have objective conversations.  

You’ll have a strong foundation and leadership team battle through the obstacles and challenges that come with growing a business and thriving in the long term.  Not to mention, you’ll be a much happier, more fulfilled person.