In an ideal world, partners complement each other with their unique strengths, diverse talents and skills. The reality may be slightly different, with intense business relationships holding the potential to cause conflict and affect your business.
According to Noam Wasserman, “65 per cent of those who shuttered their doors did so because of ‘people problems’ compared to 35 per cent with product, functional or market problems.” The associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School also suggests that startups founded with non-friend teams stay intact longer than those established with family and friends.
What, then, is the best way to choose a founding partner?
Values such as commitment, work ethic and vision enable parties to maintain a united front. They set the foundation for a stable business partnership. When all partners believe in the same principles and want the same things for the business, they are able to give that belief shape in the form of their service, which in turn becomes their identity and eventually spells success or disaster. Thus, shared values are vital in a potential business partner.
Businesses invariably run into trouble. This could be due to a number of reasons, including volatile market conditions, natural catastrophes or man-made situations. When this happens, having a level-headed partner is essential to deal with the issue at hand.
Diversified skill sets
Varied skills not only help the division of labour, but also propel the business forward. Any successful partnership is based on complementary skill sets. This way, one partner can make up for another’s shortcomings and vice versa. They can thus present one successful whole in the form of the perfect product or service to the customer.
Willingness to learn
There is a learning curve involved in every business venture. For a business just starting out, it is often necessary for the founder or founders to wear many hats at once. Thus, not only is it important to find a partner with varied skill sets, it is also essential that they are willing to learn the things that neither of you know, for the success of your business.
Where to find the best partners
If you and your prospective partner have worked together for a considerable period of time, and if you believe that personal and professional differences need not interfere in your business, then it can be advantageous to go into partnership with someone whose working style and commitment you are already familiar with.
However, if you wish to steer clear of the possible complications that a personal-turned-professional relationship can bring, meeting people at business events is a good way to spread the word about your business idea and find potential partners. Even if you don’t find a partner immediately, having the contacts in place brings you one step closer to finding one. Of course, when you attend several such events, it is easy to lose track of the people you meet. After a while, the names on business cards become vague memories. A good contact management system such as Sansan can solve this problem.
Finding the right business partner is not easy, but if you define your business needs and look for a person to answer those, then you are well on the path to success.