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Before you say “Yes”, does this person share your vision for the business and picture of success? If you do not share the same end picture, then it is likely that you will pull in different directions, resulting in fragmentation of the business.
To help you make the right choice just in case you’re shopping for a business partner, we had a chat with Joram Mwinamo, a management consultant, coach and trainer with over 10 years’ experience.
Joram is the co-founder, Wylde International, an innovative professional services firm specialising in organisation and people development.
He says that pinpointing the qualities you are looking for in a suitable partner is the first step to a successful partnership.
Partners in marriage, partners in business
If you fall, get up, try again
“Business partnerships are like marriage, if you choose the wrong partner, the union will end up in divorce,” he says.
Obviously, the last thing you want is for your business to fail, so sit up and pay attention.
Before you say “Yes”, does this person share your vision for the business? Where does he envision it in say, three months’ time or five years’ time? Being in sync with your associate about the vision of the business will help you position it strategically against competitors and will also play a key role when making decisions.
Shared picture of success
Do you have a shared picture of what success looks like? Does the picture carry the aspirations of your partner too or just yours? If you do not share the same end picture, then it is likely that you will pull in different directions, resulting in fragmentation of the business.
Before you get into a partnership, talk about the returns and the amount of money that should be re-invested into the business. This will help you to gauge your partner and determine whether he is committed to walking the journey with you.
Complementary skills and outlook
If you are good at marketing a business but are poor in money management, you should look for a partner whose strength is in accounting. Having a partner who complements your skills can be a great asset to an enterprise, however, it is advisable that you learn the skills from them to make you a well-rounded entrepreneur.
Passion for the business
The right partner for your start-up ought to be passionate about what you intend to do. For instance, if you wish to establish a business that focuses on online marketing, you need a partner who enjoys buying or selling products and services online. Financial input from a partner is not enough.
A commitment to problem-solving
Before you sign that partnership agreement, first determine the potential partner’s personality traits. Most important, find out how he reacts when confronted with a challenge.
While some people face them head on, others tend to back away, hoping that the problems will go away on their own or that someone else will resolve them. Also, can they handle criticism? Are they willing to make some sacrifices, say forego dividends for the sake of future contingencies? Knowing your partner’s approach in the face of such situations will help you determine whether he is the right partner for you.
How much is he willing to put into the business? Is he ready to forego his free time to attend to the business? Start-ups demand lots of hard work, sacrifice and resilience. If one of you is not willing to go the full length, then failure is imminent.
For instance, if one partner has a full-time job while the other is running the business on full-time basis, unless handled well, this partnership will not work.
In such a case, there can also be a sense of unequal sacrifice particularly if the partner actively running the business is not drawing a competitive salary from the business.
It can be even more frustrating if one partner has a salary to fall back on and the other doesn’t when the business performs poorly.
If planning to work together, then you have to be open with each other. Transparency is the epitome of a successful partnership. Secrets and behind-the-back deals are a ticking time bomb. Should one of you realise that he has been short-changed or kept out of major dealings, it goes without saying that the marriage will be short-lived. You, therefore, need to enter into a partnership with someone that you trust and whose character is unquestionable.