Choosing a business partnership is similar to choosing partner in marriage. The success of any business depends primarily on its relationships. To create and sustain a successful partnership you need to able to work with others and have an understanding and awareness of what makes others tick.
If you think you can create a viable business without a partner, then you are probably better off going it alone. Or you might be looking for partner who can complement your skills and talents. This is when you need to consider taking on a partner to ensure success of the business. Fifty percent of something or hundred percent of nothing.
Before taking on a partner, there are few critical elements you need to discuss openly and honestly with any potential partner. Here is a short checklist:
Trust – This is non-negotiable. It also needs to be unreserved, unambiguous, and unequivocal.
Compatible communication styles – matching communication styles is essential especially when making decisions, or flubbing a client meeting, or how to talk to employees; matching communication style will avoid some headaches and delays.
Complementary skills – It is better to find a partner with some skills that overlap, however if collaborating on projects causes needless arguments due to similar skills, then avoid these type of projects. Find a person with complimentary skills and a few that overlap.
Shared Mission and Vision – It is of primary importance for any partner to believe in your mission and vision of the company.
Objectives and Goals – Timing and priority for goals and objectives need to be discussed and agreed upon; and satisfactory for all partners.
A business plan – The minimum, you should have at least an outline business plan showing how your share goals will be achieved in a realistic manner.
A supportive partner – There needs to be a shared sense of support and optimism about the product or service. A supportive culture infused hope and sustain motivation.
Market Research and Target Market – You need have an identified a market need for your product or service and aware of any other competitors that would change your sales projections. Undertake a SWOT analysis.
Capable and agile management teams – Have managers that are capable of identifying issues and able to take action immediately.
Reward achievements – Any successful partnership will promote competitions within the partnership, and recognize and reward achievements.
Open relationships – For any partnership to succeed, all partners need to be consistently attuned to what is happening within and outside of the relationship, and the possible impacts on the partnership. All members pay attention with an open mind.
Company morale – All partners need to be aware of the emotional state of each other and not afraid to bring up the topic. An open and honest partnership create a culture where members are not afraid to raise issues about other partners that are harming the group.
Strong execution of decisions – The downfall of many companies is the failure to take the correct action with the appropriate energy and timeliness. Partners need to have full agreement and one mind.
Sense of security – All partners need to feel protection within the partnership. Each member is aware that any threat to the security of their partnership undermines progress and need to be discussed openly.
Formal partnership agreement – A formal partnership contract is essential to identify ownership details, rights and obligations.
Exit strategy – If things go wrong, and they might, it is always good to have an exit clause and strategy to allow partners to exit the partnership.