Finding the right business partner can be as difficult as finding the right life partner, which probably accounts for why more adults in America are single now than ever before. But when it comes to launching a business, an ideal partner can be the key to success: an individual who will strengthen your strengths and fill in your weaknesses, contributing intellectually and increasing the likelihood of financial success. With the right partner, you avoid lone wolf syndrome.
Basically, he or she completes you.
So, here’s how to find an ideal business partner for your startup.
You’ve got a little prep work to do before you even start looking for that ideal partner. Do not skip these steps or you could lock yourself into something you don’t want!
- Do a little soul-searching. What are your strengths and weaknesses in business? Be honest. It’s not a sign of weakness to be able to self-reflect, it’s a sign of strength. Where do you get stuck, or have personality problems, or fail to complete what you set out to do? If you are really brave, gather data from past partners.
- Write a job description. Based on the above and on what you have in mind for your business, write a job description for your ideal partner candidate.
- Keep in mind that differences can bring strength. You are not looking for a clone. You are looking for someone that will help you succeed, give your investors’ confidence, and diversify your strengths. So, consider a different gender, race, generation, ethnicity or other differences in perspective for your start-up. Don’t formulate an idea around a particular person or background—keep an open mind.
If you’ve been really honest and complete about your prep work, you are ready to start the search.
After you have done your prep work, there are three places you should look:
- Your past — Did a past employee knock your socks off and would be a great partner? Did a former classmate strike you as being start-up material? Explore past connections and start talking to people.
- The real world — Network, just like you would grow your business. Attend workshops, conferences and classes, the Chamber of Commerce and other collaborative spaces. If your community lacks resources, you may even want to consider relocating. Surround yourself with real world possibilities.
- The virtual world — There are lots of online resources for finding business partners. Follow-up IRL with anyone promising, though, since you can glean more about personalities in person.
When you have candidates that seem like possibilities, get specific again. Compare the individual to your job description. Discuss how operations would go, who might do what, who is the CEO, etc. Spend time together and ask difficult questions, so you don’t get caught up in a “honeymoon phase.”
It helps to name what targets and milestones you each envision, and how you will mark success.
Keep in mind: you are not looking for a perfect person, you are looking for a perfect partner. You do, however, what that person to have qualities that you admire and want to spend time with. If you are equally invested in the success of your startup business (as you should be), you will be spending a great deal of time together. That time should be inspiring and enhancing. In that way, this is not a romance. This is not your best friend. This is not an employee that will clock in and out.
A true business partner will invest in and enhance your strategic plans. So find that person and get started!