Choosing the wrong business partner could result, at best, in detrimental financial losses for your organisation, or worse case scenario, the demise of your company.
To avoid this, it’s imperative to ensure that your alliance is strategic, coherent and not based on emotion.
James Maritz, an executive, life and business coach, unpacks the three things you need to consider when choosing a business partner.
1. Do they share your company’s vision and values?
“When choosing a business partner, you need to know that they share your vision for your company,” Maritz says. “This person will be representing your business and will influence how others will view your company’s image. If commitment, integrity and honesty are important qualities that you bestow in your organisation, then set strict criteria during the interview process to see if the person you are considering to be your partner shares these values.
2. What kind of partner do you want?
In order to meet the needs of your business, consider what purpose the person has in your company. Maritz says:
- If a partnership is sought due to financial reasons, then you should consider investors who are solely responsible for providing financial resources and who offer guidance with things like strategic planning.
- If you want more of a passive partner, then make sure you set boundaries and that they are clear before appointing them, so that they don’t interfere with the managing of your business.
- If you want a partner who is active in making important decisions for the company, then their role in the company needs to be clear from the start. You will need to decide if this person has an equal say in decisions made for the wellbeing of your company. This is where most conflict occurs, especially if partners don’t share the same values and are both hard-headed.
3. Find out more about your partner
If you have decided on a potential partner, find out everything you can about them. “Do a credit check on the person, even if you know them. Find out if they have ever been in any major financial debt or have been asked to leave a company.
Tips for making a partnership work:
- Find a good personality fit. Ask yourself if you get along with them. Running a business can be stressful. If they stress out, get angry, overreact easily or are extremely emotional when faced with problems, they are not a good fit for you.
- Look at their skills. Don’t bring a partner on board because you like them and think they will work hard. Make sure it makes sense for your business to have them there.
- Keep your emotions at bay. Remain professional. If things go wrong, look for a solution and not a person to blame.
- Get it in writing. In case the situation doesn’t work out, get all agreements in writing. Also, give them guidelines as to what your expectations are. Set goals in advance so they know what they’re signing up for.
- Have a trial run. See how it goes for a month. This way, if it doesn’t work out, it will be easier to let them go.
- Don’t appoint them if you have doubts. If you have any doubt about hiring a business partner, then it’s best not to hire them at all. Go with your gut and don’t think you owe them anything – it’s not worth the price of your business.