Some ventures are best begun with a partner. There may also come a time in the life of a solopreneur when the want or need to take on a partner becomes evident. If you want someone to share the load with, you will also want to make sure that this partner is the right one for you. Below are 9 of the main characteristics to look for in a founding partner.
Shares a Common Vision
Your entrepreneurial journey probably began with a vision, and your partner’s should, too. Sometimes these visions can be equally strong, but differ. If your visions diverge in key aspects, it will be difficult for you to push the enterprise forward in the same direction. This can lead to undue conflict that will damage your partnership and hinder business growth.
When your visions converge, you will be on the same page from day one and be able to align your drives in your respective roles. This in turn will allow you to seamlessly move forward without the need for long and arduous meetings – a.k.a. arguments – about what to do next.
Has the Same Passion
You want to find a partner who has the same passion that you do about entrepreneurship. More importantly, you also want one that shares your passion for your particular business. The entrepreneur is a singular creature, and it might prove difficult to deal with someone at that top level if they find your ways somewhat confusing or strange. An entrepreneur at heart will understand you and be better able to flow along with your ideas and work with you on plans.
For your business, you may want to have someone there who can do the things that you aren’t really good at. This has its advantages, as I will point out later. To get the best results, however, your partner should be someone who is deeply interested in your business specifically. The quality of their input and output is going to be so much more valuable when they are honed in on exactly what you are building.
Is Aligned with Your Mission, Values and Company Culture
Your mission is at the core of your business – what it is and isn’t. If the partner that you have in mind is not all for it, then they are simply not the right fit. You can try to work around this one, but you will almost certainly find that it just won’t work. Everything that you do for and with and in your business flows from that core mission. Anyone that does not agree with it and is not working from the heart to achieve it is not going to be able to contribute much of value.
Your values are what your company represents, and it follows that you want everyone in it to represent the same. Your partner should hold the same principles and believe in acting to make them a reality in the day-to-day life of the business if you want it to be what you envisioned. A partner who isn’t following your compass will either push you to reinvent the wheel and take you where you never wanted to go – or tear the company apart.
Your company culture is the way that you form the life of your business, based on your mission and values. It is the way that you run things, and you want your partner to feel the same way. Otherwise, you will have two opposing forces of behavior that will confuse your teams and your clients. This is bad for your branding, your image, and can resound negatively with others in your business community. This will break down unity and cohesion within the business and ultimately lead to its failure.
Has the Qualities of an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs are different from any other, including your run-of-the-mill “businessman”. They have certain qualities that define them, specific characteristics that are essential to the life of a business. The entrepreneur is first and foremost daring – sometimes to an audacious degree. He wants to change the world, and everything he does stems from that drive. He does not know the meaning of the word “can’t” and will either solve or break down everything that is in the way of accomplishing his goals. He pushes forward, riding the inevitable waves that come crashing in. He keeps learning and growing to be the person he needs to be to turn lemons into lemonade and feed his business.
Has Expertise in Your Needed Skill Set
Once you have found that person who shares your vision, passion, mission, values, culture, and entrepreneurial spirit, you want to make sure they have the right skills. Most often, you will feel the need to find a partner when you notice gaps in your business. You will logically be thinking about someone who can fill in these gaps. Gaps can be the result of your having stretched yourself too thin. But a partner is not the best solution to this problem. You will be better off building or expanding a support team around you to handle the overflow.
The best place for a partner is to fill in the gaps that you are not comfortable with. This means that your ideal partner will likely have a different skill set than you do. Find a partner who can do those things that you can’t at a much higher level. Find a partner who knows exactly what to do with those issues that you are struggling to resolve.
Is Focused on Your Business
You expect your teams to be at work when they are needed and give it their all. You are, and you do, much more than anyone else. Your partner should be held to this higher standard and give your business the same care and attention that you expect from yourself. Any partner who is not willing or able to focus on your business has no business being in partnership with you. This is no different than hiring a manager, and one who is part-time at that. A distracted partner is not going to be the ally and sidekick that you need to grow your business.
Is Committed to Your Goals
The best partner is one who is deeply invested in the goals that you have for your business. Apart from focusing time and effort, he should be committed to pushing each goal to completion. This person is the one who first asks about your goals, puts serious thought into how to accomplish them, and takes the necessary action at the appropriate times.
Is Not Worried About the Money
When you are starting a business, you know that there isn’t going to be a lot of money for the first year or so. You accept this and are prepared for it. The person that you want to partner with needs to have the same attitude. If your prospect is concerned about getting paid, then they are looking for a job, and not looking to partner up. A partner walks beside you, sharing in the burdens as well as the successes that you will meet along the way. Anyone willing to do less is no partner at all.
Communicates Well with You and Your Core Team
Communication is always important, and plays a vital role in a partnership. You should be able to maintain constant communication with your partner, for starters. It is good to note here that someone who isn’t available is also someone who isn’t properly focused or committed. More than the actual opportunity to touch base, communications should be smooth. In a perfect world, you would find a partner who can effortlessly follow along when you are presenting ideas, and who is also able to put things in a way that is absolutely clear to you. The good news is that communication is something that can be learned and perfected. Find a partner who knows how to adjust and is willing to get into that groove with you so that you can both maximize your time and avoid confusion.
Finding the perfect partner is no easy task, but a necessary one. Putting in the time and effort needed will save a lot of headache and heartache down the line. You have already put a lot into your business, even if you haven’t actually started yet. You need to put in this much more to make sure that you will have someone by your side who will be as dedicated and resilient and passionate as you are.