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7 Tips on How to Choose a Business Partner

Having No Partner is Better Than Dealing With a Bad Business Partner

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Approach finding a business partner as you would a combination spouse/day care provider. A partnership is a long-term covenant between two (or more) people. You will spend a lot of time planning major business events with your partner and need to be able to get along with him/her.

Your business is something you gave birth to and will have to nurture to help it grow. You want a partner that will approach your business with the same level of enthusiasm and commitment that you have, but who also shares the same business "parenting" philosophies.

1. Find a Partner That Shares Your Values, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Vision

Two businesswomen in discussion in workstation
Thomas Barwick/ Stone/ Getty Images
Of all the things to look for in a partner this is probably the most important. You will need to be able to communicate effectively with your partner to make decisions, set goals, and drive the business forward. If you partner with someone that is reluctant, combative, or unable to consider your viewpoint it will be harder to be successful.

2. Find a Partner That Can Bring Skills and Experience to The Business

A good business partner should have skills that support and compliment your own. No single person is a master of all things business. If you have great interpersonal skills but poor business finance skills, consider a partner who understands business accounting. The more skills you and your partner bring to the business together the easier it will be to start, plan, grow, and run your business.

3. Look For a Partner Without A Lot of Personal Baggage

If your partner has serious challenges in his/her personal life it may carry over into the business. It is nice to be willing to give someone a chance, but running a small business takes focus, time, and tremendous energy. If your partner is dealing with one personal crisis after another you may find yourself carrying the weight of the business.

4. Find a Partner That Can Offer Resources and Credibility to Your Business

It is great to have a business partner that has financial resources, but there are other contributions a partner can bring to the business that can be just as valuable. A partner with a strong business network, industry connections, client list, or certain credentials and expertise can also increase the value of your business and improve your chances for achieving long-term success.

5. Choose a Partner That Practices Good Personal and Business Ethics

Only enter into partnerships with someone you can trust. Look for someone who values honesty and practices good personal and business ethics. A poorly chosen business partner may end up stealing from the company, taking your ideas or clients to start their own business, or breaking laws that could get your business into legal trouble.

6. Choose a Partner That is Financially Stable

Whether or not your partner contributes financially to the business is less important than if your potential partner is in dire financial straits. Someone in the middle of a financial crisis may not be the best choice to go into business with for a variety of reasons. Money, asset, and time management skills are critical for small business entrepreneurs and someone who has grossly mismanaged their personal or business finances may not have the skills or discipline to make a business partnership work. Worst case scenario, they may even look for ways to steal from your business to solve personal financial problems.

7. Respect: A Necessary Element to Forming a Successful Partnership

You should never partner with someone that you do not respect. The main purpose in forming a partnership is to achieve success as a team. You may not value the opinion and efforts of someone you do not respect at least on a professional level. You also want to partner with someone that will show you respect as a partner, business professional, and as the founder of your business.

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