At some point during business growth, it may make sense to take on a partner. Too much work. You’re stretched too thin. Missed opportunities. A good business partner may be the solution – and you can take a day off once in a while.

Finding a business partner is a lot like finding a partner in life. A solid foundation is based on trust and respect for each other. Your business partner will be an integral part of your life.

Here are some tips to point you down the pathway to a more productive partnership.

1. Analyze your strengths and limitations. You may be the “broad picture, far-sighted visionary,” but not real strong on day-to-day business operations. In that case, find someone who’s really good at managing day-to-day business. Know what you do well, and what you don’t do well. Your business partner should fill in the blanks, being strong in those areas you’re not.

2. Find a trustworthy, credible partner.  In your business sphere, you already have relationships with vendors, sub-contractors, outsources, employees – relationships based on a history of trust. Look within your own contacts file. A vendor may make a good partner; or maybe your long-trusted sales manager would be interested in an ownership stake. Creating trust takes time, so start your search with people you already trust, and who trust you.

3. Meet prospective partners in social settings.  Your business partner is someone you trust, but he or she is also someone you like, someone you enjoy sharing time with. Don’t rush into anything. Build a personal relationship to determine if this is someone you want to work with day to day.  Share a dinner in a nice restaurant. Play a round of golf, or spend a family weekend together to see just how good a fit this prospect is.

4. Collect references. A likely candidate for a business partner is also likely to be known in your service area or industry.  Don’t just talk to previous employers. Talk to business associates, clients, and others with whom your future partner has conducted business. Develop an accurate picture of each prospect based on references from many different sources.

5. Be clear about your business objectives and work ethic. Find a partner who understands your vision, and shares that vision – someone who can help you reach business objectives faster. If you’re going down one business path while your partner pursues another course, you may have a problem. Get on the same page early on. Look at the work ethic of each prospect. If you put in a 60-hour week, how will you feel if your partner only works 40 hours each week? Discuss a typical work week. Be clear about what you expect of your new partner.

6. It’s not just about you. A business partner has aspirations and motivations, too. A partnership isn’t a one-way street. Both partners give-and-take to make the best use of each other’s individual strengths. Respect and deploy the skills and expertise of your business partner, and integrate those professional facets into your objectives. Good partners create synergies for business success.

7. Get the right person by setting the right terms. You’ll want to choose the most qualified candidate. If the prospective partner wants a financial stake, structure an agreement that enables your new workmate to acquire ownership over time. This should attract people with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Requiring a new partner to “buy in” with cash may limit your pool of possible partners. The best candidate may not have ready cash, so don’t limit your options if you don’t have to.

Finding a business partner is vital to the success of your company, so you should take your time and make sure you’re choosing someone who’s a good fit.

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC