Are you thinking about starting a business and wish to partner with someone else? Before you make that decision, there are a few questions that I suggest you ask yourself. Think critically about these, because entering into a partnership can either be the best decision you have made or the worst. Luckily, an almost partnership (of mine) was dissolved prior to making it official. Let me share the story with you:
A few years ago, I had a desire to start a business so I took a few entrepreneurial classes in B-school. One class required that we write a 30-page business plan. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to pursue, but I knew that I wanted it to be a meaningful entrepreneurial journey.
Around that time, a relative needed help with marketing, so I gave her a few tips and we kind of entered into a verbal partnership. I opted to focus the business plan on the venture she founded, however, at the end of the course, she decided that she no longer wanted to pursue the business.
I was disappointed, as I had spent many hours working on a plan that I would no longer use. However, I am happy that this partnership never materialized into an official one. I am sure she is too! Not that we don’t like one another or couldn’t work well together. Later, I understood that we had different dreams, goals and motivations. I am glad that she spoke up and we went our separate ways professionally.
What can you learn about our short-lived partnership?
1. Do I need or want a partnership?
Ask yourself—what are the reasons I want a partner in this venture? Be honest with yourself. I thought about the reasons why I wanted a partner and it turns out that deep inside I was scared to pursue a venture alone. It is no secret that being an entrepreneur can be quite lonesome, at times. Not to mention the fear of doing something that you’ve never done.
2.Is my partner as passionate as I am about this venture?
Sit down and have an honest conversation with your potential partner. Talk about your passions, interests, skills, and motivations. What are they and do they align?
I knew that my partner wanted to write and she was enthusiastic about publishing her books, but later she revealed that she only wanted to write. She didn’t want to deal with the business aspects of a venture. That is okay. Managing a business is not for everyone and I am glad she mentioned it.
3.Do we have the same vision and goals?
I think this is a critical aspect of a partnership. Both have to be on the same page—It is important that you both work toward the same goals; otherwise things won’t get done.
We both saw the big picture, but I saw myself doing more work for the Lord. At the time, I grew spiritually and motivations changed. I wanted a business that would honor and spread the Word of the Lord. I still see the big picture, but now it has a spiritual element to it.
4. Does this person complement my skills?
Make an accurate and honest assessment of one another’s skills. It isn’t about skills you are going to acquire; it is what you possess at that time. Remember, you are dishing out money to make the venture work.
5. Can you work well together?
Being able to communicate on a daily basis, while being honest about the business and yourselves is important. You cannot be successful if you are both doing your own thing.
Have daily meetings in a neutral environment (coffee shop) to chat about business. Create an agenda so that you both make the most of your meeting. And if you don’t like something, speak up.
Are there any tips that you would like to share?