Entrepreneurs compare starting a business to raising a child. They love being an entrepreneur but the workload, long hours, uncertainty, and the number of decisions they need to make each day can make it exhausting at times.
Many people seek a business partner to join them on their mission to help ease the burden. But before you search for a business partner – ask yourself, why do you want one?
There are many world-renowned success stories for both solopreneurs and those with a business partner – both have their pros and cons. Plus, there’s the option of finding a mentor too.
Is finding a business partner right for you?
Many entrepreneurs are self-proclaimed control freaks! They can’t stand delegating tasks or running their decisions by others. They get a kick out of steering the ship by themselves. While it’s daunting, that’s the way they like it.
If that sounds like you (and you don’t see this changing) then you might be suited to going it alone or finding a mentor. There’s no right or wrong answer: it’s a case of whether a business partner is right for your personality.
So, if you do want a business partner, what are your reasons?
- Is there a skill set you lack that you’d like someone to help with (networking, marketing, etc.)?
- Do you need an extra set of hands to help ease the workload?
- Do you work best when you can bounce ideas off someone? Would you feel more confident and enjoy the experience more with someone else you trust working alongside you on your mission?
Finding the right business partner can take time. Knowing why you want one makes it easier to find the right person.
The advantages of having a business partner
Combined skills & knowledge
More minds, more knowledge. Having a business partner with a different background, experience and expertise to you will always have its benefits. You will see problems and opportunities differently, which can lead to those door-opening ‘Aha!’ moments.
Bold decisions are part of being an entrepreneur – but... sometimes you don’t know if your idea is genius or terrible. It helps to bounce ideas off each other so that you can develop ideas before taking action (...or not!).
How many times have you had to put an urgent task on ice due to a must-attend meeting? (Many we bet.) Having a business partner gives you more flexibility to do more each day. Plus, you may find your business partner loves the areas that you don’t enjoy – and vice versa.
There’s no hiding it – entrepreneurship is stressful at times. Having a business partner to depend on makes the journey less stressful and much more enjoyable. You’re both on the same mission to tackle the problems and enjoy the wins together. This can build an incredible bond; they’ll feel like a brother or sister.
How to find the right business partner
It’s amusing how many successful business partners say that they started their business over a drink in a pub. And in most cases, they knew that some of their skills were a little rough around the edges.
It just shows that human connection is the most important part. Without trusting each other or enjoying each other’s company, it can’t work. Skills and experience can be learned/gained along the way.
Reach out to friends, family, and former colleagues
Is there anyone you have worked well with before that you trust? Send them a message to see what they’re up to. Even if they’re not interested, they might know someone else who is. After all, these are the people that know you better than anyone else.
Network, both on and offline
Doors can open overnight with the right connection. Take advantage of professional networks such as LinkedIn, Shapr, Founders Nation, Co-Founders Lab, Founder2be and FounderDating (great name). Plus, don’t overlook your own private Facebook account to ask around for potential business partners.
Online, you can reach more people in much less time than networking events – which many entrepreneurs don’t have the time for. You might not find the perfect partner overnight but at least you’re getting your name out there, which can only help you.
How to trial a business partner
With friendship, money, egos, hopes and dreams on the line – this isn’t something you can rush, even if it feels like you’ve found the perfect business partner.
Working together is the only way to see if you can work together. Candidates may seem like a good fit on paper but that’s not enough to go by. Agreeing to work together for a set amount of time, or on a certain project, is a wise move that lessens the risk factor for both sides moving forward.
Assign roles & responsibilities
It’s so easy to skip the boring stuff and ‘just do it’ but this is where bad habits and underlying problems are formed. Nobody wants ‘that conversation’ months down the line when you have a hundred other things to do.
Get on the same page from the get-go so that you’re both laser-focused on what’s expected of each other.
What qualities to look for in your business partner?
Are they engaged when you’re talking about plans or when you’ve had some great news? If not, this is bound to negatively affect all areas of their contribution.
The obvious one… do they do what they say they are going to do? Can you work on what you need to, confidently, knowing that your business partner is doing their part?
You won’t always get your way when you have a business partner, which isn’t easy to accept. So, when you strongly disagree with an opinion or decision of theirs, how do they take it – are they open to discussing or not?
The phrase ‘extreme ownership’ has become popular in the entrepreneurial scene lately. Why? Because this is a dream quality to hope for in your business partner. With just the two of you, there’s no room to play games or ‘pass the buck’. Working with someone who takes full responsibility and is honest to the core makes for a dream working relationship.
It’s easy to be positive when things are going well but how do they cope with adversity? Cash flow concerns, worrying words from investors, growing competition – can they stay composed and committed to the cause when you have good reason to be worried?
Do they share your vision?
Everyone has a different reason for becoming an entrepreneur. Some are on a mission to change the world, some inherited the family business, others just want to sell the business later down the line so that they can retire younger. It doesn’t matter what the reason is but you both need to share the vision for the company.
Is their ultimate vision of success much bigger or smaller than yours? These are potential obstacles you may run into down the line. So be honest and open when looking for a business partner – you’ll save yourself lots of time and hassle.
How do you know when you’ve found your business partner? Just like the cliche dating saying, you will know when you’ve found the right one!