Every woman dreams of one day finding the perfect partner. . . loyal, dependable, smart, ambitious. But what should you know before you take that giant leap and go . . .
. . . into business together? Wait, did you think I was going to say get married? Actually, finding a mate and finding a business partner are very similar. Often, the traits that make a good marriage partner are also the traits that one should look for in a business partner. Much like getting married, business partners are linked in contract, developing their dreams, and taking on risk and reward together. And possibly even more so than marriage, a business partner is not easily divorced.
So, what should you look for when seeking out a business partner?
Do you share the same short and long term goals? Couples entering into matrimony must address certain issues such as: where do we want to live? Do we want children? Who is responsible for cleaning the hair out of the drain? Similarly, business partners must ensure that their goals coincide. If one partner wants a small, mom-and-pop shop and the other wants to franchise, you are in for a lot of arguments. If one partner wants to develop a niche market and the other wants to expand, you can’t work together toward a common goal. Many partners-to-be assume that they have the same goals and vision and have a rude awakening years down the road when they find out that they are butting heads. Talk about it now.
What are your individual skills? At home, my better half doesn’t know how to turn on the oven and I hate to do the dishes. Thus, I cook and he cleans. This works for us. You need a wide gamut of skills to succeed in business. You need a creative force, marketing skills, technology know-how, not to mention expertise in your product. Do you and your partner complement each other? If not, how are you going to make up for your shortcomings?
Ethics. Would you marry someone who had cheated in his prior relationships? You need a partner, in life and business, who you can trust. Make sure that your potential partner has sound business and personal ethics. A poorly chosen business partner could end up stealing from you, your business, taking your ideas, and starting a new company, or breaking laws that end up getting you and your business in trouble.
Good looking. Finally, make sure that you are attracted to your partner. Just kidding! But, make sure that your partner is someone that you like, respect, makes you laugh, and that you generally enjoy being around. Starting a business is hard—it requires a lot of time and a lot of patience. And it’s not going to be a lot of fun if you don’t like your partner.
Once you make the decision to go into business together remember these two fundamental principles: respect and communication. If you have chosen a good partner, have respect for each other, and can communicate well, your next step is to contact your attorney and place all your agreements in writing. The road to success is not easy, but you can avoid making it harder.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Raquel Salas and Elizabeth Lueder are attorneys with Avanti Law Firm. Visit www.avantilaw.com to learn more about the work they do.