A business partner can be a blessing and a curse, depending on your relationship. In the right situation, your partnership can make your business stronger than it would be if you were on your own. In the wrong situations, it can tear your business apart. The difference between the two is a healthy business partnership.
No relationship can survive without communication. While the concept is simple, communication can actually be pretty complicated. If you and your potential partner have different communication styles, you’ll find that it’s going to be hard to be on the same page with your business.
Have some frank conversations about what your expectations, goals, and processes are going to be. Schedule time into your business calendars to continue these conversations regularly. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Make sure that you foster an environment where both of you can speak up whenever you have a concern and then be heard.
Complementary Strengths and Weaknesses
Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Finding a partner that complements your strengths and makes up for your weaknesses is a must. The first step to doing this is make sure that you have a clear understanding of where you excel and where you need support.
Write down a list of your strengths and weaknesses. (Ask someone who knows you well and has worked with you to take a look at it. It will keep you honest.) Have your partner do the same thing. Cross reference your lists to see what you can help each other with. If you notice that there are places where you both lack skills, make sure you have a plan to bring in key staff to make up for it.
You can’t have a healthy partnership without trust. But trust is tricky. It’s hard to earn and easy to lose. For maximum trust in a partnership, do your homework. Background checks and personal references are a must. Talk to a few people who have worked with your potential business partner and ask some tough questions.
Start slow, too. Try one project together before diving into a full on partnership. Give yourself an out, too. Make sure your contracts give you both a chance to pull out if things don’t work out. And don’t forget that a well written contract always makes it easier to trust a situation.
Compatible Working Styles
When you get down to it, your business is about the work you and your partner are going to be doing together. Your working styles must mesh or you may find it hard to collaborate. If one of you is an early bird who works best within tightly defined organization, it’s going to be hard to make something work with a night owl who finds organization restricting.
This isn’t to say that it can’t work. It’s just that you really have to put in some elbow grease to make it work. You’ll have to compromise in a lot of spaces. That might mean you don’t get to have your meetings exactly when it feels comfortable. You might also have to put staff into place to be a bridge between you two. An admin worker or key management member might be the bridge you need to make your working styles mesh.