When it’s time to choose a business partner, entrepreneurs sometimes pick based on the wrong criteria.
Though you may feel inclined to pick your partner based on personal chemistry, a Harvard Business Review article suggests doing otherwise. While it’s important to get along with someone for a smooth, professional relationship, that alone doesn’t mean they’re the right fit to run a business with you.
When choosing a partner and cofounder for OptinMonster, there were a couple of candidates I narrowed it down to. In the end, I chose to work with the person who not only demonstrated not only expertise in his field, but also possessed the ability to work well under pressure, produced creative ideas and shared the company vision.
It’s important to consider what qualities you want in a business partner so you know you can count on them to run a successful startup and get things done. Here are five things to consider before you officially partner with someone to run a business.
A potential partner’s experience is an important factor because they need to be able to perform their job without you. They should have the skills necessary to run the business in case you need to take time off or you’re out of the office.
Think about what kind of experience you want your partner to have. Do you prefer that they’ve professionally partnered with someone before, or do you not mind if this is their first co-endeavor? What level of expertise do you expect them to bring to the table? Is there a specific type of experience you want them to have?
It helps to take notes as you go. When something comes to mind, jot it down so you don’t forget later.
A key to building a business that lasts is constantly creating innovative ideas that take it to the next level. Whatever makes your products and services stand out from the rest is what ensures you’ll be a hit with consumers. People are always looking for the next best thing, and this requires creativity.
If your partner isn’t the creative type, are you OK with that? You may find yourself hiring someone else for creative input or brainstorming ideas on your own. The point of a partnership is to split the effort in half, but if your partner isn’t pulling their weight, it’s probably not worth it.
Find a partner who challenges you. Not only should their personality complement yours, but they should feel motivated enough to bring new ideas to the table and push the company further.
3. Skill Set
Many employers place extra emphasis on the hard skills of their applicants, but this is only one piece of the puzzle. You need both hard and soft skills to succeed in today’s cutthroat economy where there are far too many options. Hard skills include teachable traits such as garnering accolades, learning a new language or having a fast typing speed. Soft skills are behavioral qualities such as leadership, critical thinking, teamwork and flexibility.
Having a balance of both skill sets is crucial to being a well-rounded professional. On the one hand, your partner needs the basic experience and expertise to perform their job well. But they also need to be good with people, as they’ll work with investors, vendors, entrepreneurs and employees. If they don’t have what it takes to communicate with a team or be a leader, then they probably aren’t the right partner for you.
When our company sought out a cofounder, we knew we wanted someone with both sets of skills to join the team. We looked for someone who was an expert in their field, but was also easy to get along with, shared creative ideas and motivated us to do more. Focusing on both sides allowed us to partner with someone who, to this day, is the perfect fit for the company.
It’s crucial that you and your business partner share the same vision for the company so you’re on the same page. It’s easier to reach your goals and create new ideas when you have and work toward one vision.
If you’re on different pages about where the company is going or how you want it to operate, then clearly it isn’t a good fit. To run smoothly, you and your partner must run the business together with the same idea in mind. Otherwise, you won’t achieve your goals or reach milestones.
Another important factor to consider is how reliable your partner is. Can you count on them if you aren’t there to make crucial business decisions? Do they know how to lead a team and conduct business when you aren’t there? If a task must be finished, will they complete it on time?
If a potential partner isn’t someone you can rely on, why bother choosing them to run a business? Being an entrepreneur requires time, effort, focus and tons of hard work. If you don’t consider this individual reliable and trustworthy, move on to the next.
Choosing the right business partner is essential to running a company smoothly and successfully. It isn’t about chemistry so much as it’s about finding someone who brings new ideas forward, shares your vision and boosts creativity.