In business, a good partnership is like a good marriage. All the joys double as the two partners celebrate together and all the burdens halve as the two partners work together to carry them. Also like a marriage, though, choosing the wrong partner can end up in emotional and financial disaster. There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the perfect partner for a successful startup venture.
Good Partners Care
One of the biggest mistakes many small business owners face when selecting a partner is choosing a friend or family member who has no real passion for the business itself. When things are going well there may be no problems with such a relationship, but let’s face it, things do not always go well. When the going gets tough, having one partner who is passionately invested in the business and another who is just along for the ride is a recipe for failure.
Look for a partner who would have been more than happy to start the business alone under different circumstances. Such a partner is far more likely to go that extra mile to keep the business headed in a successful direction.
Good Partners Have Complementary Strengths
In an ideal world, both partners would be virtuosos in every aspect of running the business. In the real world, we all have our relative strengths and weaknesses. A partner with great technical skills and few people skills would be well served to seek a partner with the ability to better interface with clients. One with great management skills may find holding down the fort at the office the best option with a partner able to head out and oversee projects.
Not only do such complementary skills ensure better oversight of the business, they avoid potential conflict from the thing that can be either a great asset or a huge detriment – that entrepreneurial independent streak. While the business as a whole is “our” responsibility, dividing individual responsibilities into “yours” and “mine” can keep partners from clashing over tiny personal differences that have no real effect on the business.
Good Partners Communicate
Guiding a small business to success can be like navigating a ship through treacherous waters to a buried treasure. Having two captains who are not on the same page is unlikely to result in a jubilant crew celebrating their success. It is far more likely to result in a group stranded on a reef somewhere wondering what happened.
Partners, especially those who do not actually work together when carrying out their respective responsibilities need to meet regularly and inform each other of what is going on and agree on what they want to happen in the future.
Those involved in a successful startup often find themselves the object of respect and envy. Those involved in an unsuccessful startup often find themselves the object of disdain and mockery. One of the most important early decisions that impacts the success of a small business is choosing a good partnership.