It’s a plight many ambitious business owners face: They start with a robust business idea and carry their vision forward to start the business—with all its details—only to find themselves trapped in the daily flood of details involved with running the operation.
Challenges can include building and upkeeping the physical location, equipment, back office, point of sale system, finances and payment acceptance, accounting, cash flow, employee acquisition and more. It can be overwhelming for a retailer on their own to manage it all, and even the most efficient and productive merchant can find themselves drowning in the business. Taking on a business partner is at times necessary—and critical—for a business to thrive.
However, finding the right business partner isn’t always easy, and many business owners are unsure where to begin their search. Below are several advantages of collaborating with a partner and how to identify the best candidate.
Look for the right partner.
Your ideal business partner should be knowledgeable in the field, have connections, financial resources, professional experience, personal ethics, leadership abilities and be enthusiastic about assisting the company. The first step is figuring out what kind of business owner you are. What are your skills, strengths and weaknesses? Your partner, for example, can assist you if you are an owner with entrepreneurial talents but no experience networking with other firms. Your partner can boost efforts where you have weaknesses and vice versa.
Personality is also an important factor. Choose a business partner who complements your personality with social and communication strengths that you might be missing. If you’re more outspoken and bubbly, someone more introspective and “in their head” might be a good complementary force for you when dealing with sensitive negotiations, workers and networking. Are you great with marketing and aesthetics but not as strong with numbers? Team up with a partner who can keep your accounting reconciliations stable.
In many ways, a business partnership is like a marriage. You don’t necessarily have to be just like your partner, but you ideally should be more complete and efficient as a team.
Use networking and your online presence to aid your search.
The next step is to make sure you’re using the right platforms to find a partner. Attend networking groups where you can discuss with others what you’re seeking and share connections. Tell friends and family that you’re seeking a partner. One never knows where a small mention can lead to a strong connection. Due to ease and convenience, many business owners nowadays communicate online rather than in person. Posting forums online are a great way to network virtually and expand your reach beyond in-person meetings.
But before you go online and publish what you’re looking for in a partner, consider if you’ll need someone with special abilities, how much experience they’ll need and what qualifications they’ll need to help you run your company more efficiently. List the top priorities, secondary requirements and preferences and then include the “extras” you’d appreciate. Expect that many individuals might not fit all the criteria you seek, but don’t sacrifice what is most important.
You’ll need to conduct interviews once you’ve located potential candidates to see which ones are now the best fit for your company. Arrange a meeting with potential partners to assess their qualifications. You should examine their strengths and flaws beyond their CV. This can help determine what will work best for you and whether the candidate would be able to complement your strengths and weaknesses.
Interviews today are far different than those conducted before the popularity of video calls. Candidates can be interviewed virtually, which saves you a lot of time and saves them the commute to meet with you. I believe this makes for a more comfortable screening process. It is surprisingly easy to get to know a candidate in a video meeting. Go with your instincts. After the interview, research their background and contact references if possible. Doing this important homework can prevent you from entering into a joint venture with the wrong partner.
Establish a partnership agreement.
A contract is valuable in establishing long-term understandings and avoiding miscommunications. Before signing one, you should discuss compensation, corporate objectives, duties, equity distribution and how you and your partner will manage a disagreement or dispute if one arises. You should also discuss the general business plan and your short- and long-term expectations. While the contract might not include every scenario, your business partner will ideally help and support you at all times.
Overall, having a partner can make or break your company, and that is why you need to be especially careful when choosing a partner. Do extensive research and trust your gut. Once you team up with the right partner, your challenges can become more manageable. At some point, as you grow, you might even want and need a third partner to join your team.