Finding a business partner might be easy, but finding the right business partner, no matter what stage your business is in, may not be as simple as you wish it to be. Clearly, finding the wrong partner can prove catastrophic and costly in both money and time. So take some time and vet your candidates as you would any new strategic hire. There is good reason you should run background and DMV checks to find out with whom you are cozying up. Better to know now than later even if they are someone close to you.
Keeping it in the family is the logical place to start for most small businesses and many have prospered by doing just that. However, if family seems “too close” or the skills and knowledge needed in your business don’t live within your family then it’s time to look elsewhere. Potential business partners can be found in many places, although you might consider looking for a partner where you have a certain level of mutual credibility and trust.
Networking to Find a Business Partner
Personal introductions work well, so meeting the right people through your professional acquaintances, your banker, accountant, network friends or business consultant are certainly valuable. Let your close friends know you are looking for a sound business partner, they might know of someone interested.
A professionally focused social media network, or group within it, might yield results. LinkedIn is the best example. A partnership is serious business and broadcasting it to Twitter and Facebook isn’t recommended.
Other places that you might have luck finding a business partner are trade shows and local networking events such as at a nearby chamber of commerce or Rotary Club.
Know Your Partner
Once you have found a prospective person to partner with, get to know them as much as possible. Business can be challenging enough without a partner, having a good partner should make things easier — not harder —for both of you. Make sure that you make clear and concise agreements about how you divide responsibilities in the business and document as much as possible so that no misunderstandings occur down the line. Having a business partnership is very much like a marriage. You know that it won’t always be good times, so be ready when disagreements occur. It really isn’t if, but when.
Robert Skidmore, President
Skidmore Business Solutions