6 Essential Rules for Finding Your Next Business Partner - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

Finding the right business partner is the work equivalent of getting married; the partnership of compatible individuals lays a foundation for a superb business or strengthens an already operating business. These six rules provide firm criteria and a solid basis for building a long-lasting and profitable partnership. All of these rules are interconnected and build upon each other; you simply need to marry your weaknesses with your business partner’s strengths to form a marketable bond.

6 Rules for Finding a Business Partner

Know Thyself

The saying “know thyself” is essential when looking for a partner. Knowing yourself is important for any great undertaking, whether that be parenting, marriage, or business. You have to know or discover your weak spots, your skills and strengths, and your opportunities. This knowledge will help you to evaluate two things: where to improve, and, most importantly, whom to look for as a partner.

Look For Your Opposite (In Some Ways)

Apple Inc., founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, is a prime example of what to look for in a successful business partnership. Wozniak was dedicated to constructing computers. While Jobs had a vision, he recognized the potential to make a profit by marketing and selling the computers. If you know your weaknesses, look for someone who has strengths which cancel out or counterbalance your weaknesses. You’re running a small food-based business, but hate photographing and marketing your business on social media–find a partner who loves photography and marketing. Are you a more behind-the-scenes person? Find a people-friendly, go-getter. Just make sure that a partner is an essential link to your business and not just an optional add-on you want to complete certain tasks. If you can afford to just hire someone to do one or two skill sets that you don’t have, that’s almost always preferable.

Dedication to the Extreme

A business partner must possess equal or more dedication to your business. When interviewing or looking for potential candidates, ask them for examples of times they went above and beyond in the professional world. Starting a business can be risky enough, so you shouldn’t have to worry about someone flaking on you or leaving you to shoulder most of the work. Some of the most successful businesses have been built on partnerships, such as Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, so it can work. You just need someone who shares or increases your enthusiasm and drive.

Experience

Your partner must have business experience that either equals or exceeds yours. If you don’t have as much business building experience as you would like (or are lacking in one area) but you have a lot of expertise, look for someone with more business experience than you.

Expertise

Your partner should have some level of expertise in your field as well. You need someone who is competent and has knowledge of your niche. After all, it’s difficult to be passionate about something with which you’re not familiar

Ability to Collaborate

If your partner is a “my way or the highway” type of person, run the other way and don’t look back. You and your partner are a team, albeit a very small team, but a team nonetheless. You may both be great individuals with outstanding skills and abilities, but your partnership will sink like a stone in the sea if you can’t collaborate. When interviewing for a potential partner, ask them for examples of times they successfully worked in a team-like environment.

Before offering a partnership, make a list of the pros and cons of having a partner first. The next step after finding your business partner is for you to find an investor to fund your dream, The bottom line: If you decide you need or want a business partner, take your time in evaluating whom to choose. The success of your business depends on the strength of the partnership you forge.



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