What To Look For When Choosing Your Ideal Business Partners

May 12, 2017

So you’ve decided to make the jump and venture into the business world.

It might not have been an easy decision. You’ve probably asked yourself a lot of questions to evaluate your business idea.

Whichever process you’ve gone through, congratulations on taking the first step!

A pressing issue for new business owners is whether you should go it alone or involve a business partner.

Many successful companies were founded by two or more partners. Think about Google, Airbnb, PayPal, and Dropbox.

Yet according to Noam Wasserman, a Harvard Business School professor, 65% of startups fail due to co-founder conflicts.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing business partners.

However, there are some key factors you should look for when hunting for the right partner. They will help reduce the chances of you running into a bad business partnership.

1. Someone with Shared Values

A partner who doesn’t have similar values and work ethics for the business will sooner or later create conflicts. Successful co-founders should share the same passion, drive, and values.

A person’s attitude shapes his or her identities and values, both personally and professionally. Thus, it’s crucial to make sure your ideal business partners’ values are aligned with yours.

People with the same passion and drive know the direction they want the company to follow. They hold firmly to the values that their business offers. They motivate each other.

Otherwise, conflicted passion will only lead to contradictory decisions and ignite heated arguments.

2. Someone You Can Rely On And Trust

A fundamental element in building and maintaining strong, long-lasting relationships is trust.

Can you count on your partners?

Can you trust that your partners will deliver the work they have promised? Can they get things done on time? Can they handle big clients and effectively manage employees?

If their actions don’t match their words, then you need to question their reliability as a business partner.

A good rule of thumb is to talk to people who have worked with your potential partners. Also look into their past projects and achievements.

Keep in mind that trust is a two-way street. Not only do you need to trust your business partner, but they also need to be able to rely on you.

3. Someone Who Is Accountable

Can you hold your partner accountable?

You certainly don’t want to work with someone who’s irresponsible, repeatedly shows up at the office late and skips meetings.

Your ideal partners must be responsible for their actions and admit any mistake they’ve made.

Remember that you are running a business and putting a lot at stake.

This is not a game — it’s important that your potential partners understand what is expected of them once you bring them on board.

4. Someone Who Can Share Financial Responsibilities

Building a business on your own can get daunting, even scary. Not to mention, when the business struggles, there are more risks for a lone founder.

Having business partners saves money. They help ease the difficulties of managing a business.

This is particularly beneficial if you’re a small business owner.

Your potential partners can inject some money into the business.

Sharing the financial burden is often a good thing. It allows you to focus your time and energy on other areas that have a direct impact on the growth of your business.

Note that if you are partnering with a friend, it’s important to have a partnership agreement in place.

Money and business can complicate relationships. The contract should establish exact rules, responsibilities, and ownership between partners.

5. Someone Who Believes In Your Vision And Ideas

Every business needs a vision. It’s the identity and commitment shared across the organization.

Vision unites everyone together and reflects the ideal future of the company.

When your business partner shares the same vision, it inspires everyone to take action. It encourages them to go the extra mile to make things work.

With a shared vision, everyone is motivated to have open communications, to fail with no shame, and to hold themselves accountable for their actions.

New ideas are welcome and efficiency is achieved. This ultimately helps avoid conflicts and competition for personal interests, ensuring a healthy culture across the company.

6. Someone Who Complements Your Skills

Everyone has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, a number of valuable assets that can benefit others.

The best business partnership provides complementary skills that support yours.

Many successful organizations have co-founders with a complementary set of skills.

For instance, while Steve Jobs was responsible for the marketing and creative side of Apple, Steve Wozniak was taking care of the product and engineering aspect of the business.

Wozniak’s technical excellence helped create the brilliant Apple computer. Job’s incredible vision and superb marketing ability persuaded consumers to purchase Apple’s products.

Remember you are not looking for a clone of yourself.

The ideal partners should strengthen your skills and eliminate your weaknesses. They should bring to the table the missing pieces essential for your business success.

7. Someone With Relevant Business/Industry Experience

If you’re building a business for the first time, it’s a good idea to go for someone with experience and deep knowledge of the chosen industry.

They will be able to share stories and lessons from both successful and failing companies.

Their different, well-informed perspective on how to approach the market and what your product or service can offer is extremely valuable to your business.

8. Someone Who Embraces Change And Growth

You don’t want to sign a business partner that will leave you when things get tough.

Running a business means that challenges are inevitable.

It’s important that your ideal business partners understand these setbacks and are willing to embrace them regardless of the difficulties.

They should view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.

Besides, if you’re going to spend a lot of time with your business partner, make sure that you respect and enjoy their company. Dreading their company will only hinder the business flow.

9. Someone Who Can End A Partnership With Grace

It’s important that all parties can part with grace, not with bitterness and resentment.

A successful business venture must have a well-prepared, thorough exit strategy.

Unfortunately, this aspect is very often overlooked.

Many people choose to avoid dealing with an exit plan. It’s easier to do so — no one really wants to face crucial decisions and pressing issues.

However, don’t follow this poor practice. Make sure you have an exit strategy in place.

It should outline things such as the events that might trigger an end to the partnership, what happens should either party need to sell their part of the business, possible options for future ownership, and how the business will be valued at the end.

Having everything prepared helps smooth out the transition.

The end of a business partnership does not mean it’s the end of your business. It certainly does not mean you have to completely cut ties with your partner. Your paths might cross again in the future — you never know.


Business partnerships can result in massive success.

They can also lead to disastrous failure.

The best business partners bring out the best in you, share the same values, work ethic, and vision. They complement you, support you, challenge you, and shoulder the burden and risk.

It’s teamwork.

Everyone shares the same goals. Everyone works hard and stays motivated through good as well as difficult times.

Keep in mind that your ideal business partners are not someone who agree with you all the time. You should not bring on board someone who would give in unconditionally.

Transparency is key to establishing and maintaining a relationship. Before choosing your partners, make sure to do your due diligence.

Don’t just go for the person you met at a networking event. Verify their experience and expertise. Ask for their resume and references, past working relationships and accomplishment.

We hope these tips will help guide you through your quest for the perfect business partner.



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