5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Business Partner #0004

One Thing You DONT Want To Get Wrong…

No, this isn’t an aging mid 90s boyband forced to tour again after they had a big tax bill they can’t pay. These boys are my business partners and dear friends. They are without doubt some of the most talented people I’ve ever met.
They say a businesses’ main competitive advantage over its product, its people, its location, its brand…is the strength and quality of it’s leadership team. Everything cascades from this. This is half business lesson, half appreciation post. I’ve been very fortunate with my business partners over the years. I have to say, the group I am so very lucky to work with every day are incredible. It is totally imperative to get your decision right. Your decision is 3 pronged. Firstly, do you need a business partner (this is another post altogether) and secondly if so, who and third, how many? I’ve watched from afar other people I know in the game who have seemed to have issue after issue with their business partners, only for everything to go pop or grind to a halt.
Not us. Not here.

I Love These Boys

Has it been easy, no of course not, but nothing in life worth having comes easy. We have worked tirelessly not just for the company, but for each other. With every year that passes these guys become more and more like family, and with relationships that tight, you can have healthy debates without fear of someone being “offended”.
I love you boys, we are creating something very special down here in little old Portsmouth.
In this post I deal with how to identify the person or people to launch with once you have decided you aren’t going to go alone. My experiences in previous businesses hasn’t always been perfect, so Ive learned what works and what to look out for. Here are my top 5 things to consider when picking a business partner.

1. Their Skills Have To Compliment Not Replicate

If you’re the outgoing, go getter, life and soul of the party type person, trust me, you are going to need someone who counters your personality and skill set. Every business (in the early days before the first key hires at least) also needs someone prepared to be locked away and nail down the processes and the numbers. Finding someone with skills and possibly a personality that differs from yours (within reason) is paramount. Why share your idea, and your future shareholding with someone that will only produce what you can. Being fully aware of your strengths and weaknesses is a great first exercise, from there you will have a much better idea of who (and what) you are looking for to compliment what you know you are bringing to the table.

2. All Partners Need To Be At Financial Risk

Ok, so Im not talking here about everyone having their houses on the line (although this has been a reality for me in the past), I’m saying that all business partners in a new venture have to have enough money invested in the business that if it were to go wrong, they would be seriously pissed off (lol!). Having something at risk, just enough to be pretty painful for each individual keeps everyone pulling in the same direction when things are tough. It gets that extra effort from everyone when your busy, stressed or demotivated. Obviously this doesn’t have to be the same amount. What’s painful for John might not even by a worry for Sarah, but this would usually have to be reflected in the shareholding.

3. Commit Your Intentions To Paper Before Launch

This is totally key. So many businesses are set up without a true discussion as to the actual vision each Founder has for the medium and long term goals of the business. It can take many months or longer to discover that partner A was always looking to grow the company into a huge beast, whilst Partner B thought a nice part time role after hitting 10 people was the aim. There’s no right or wrong, but you need clarity on this from the get go.
I’d always go one step further, don’t just have the conversation, but commit the intention to paper and both sign it. If your long term goals differ, this is OK, at least there’s an awareness about it and an agreement can be drawn up to compensate the partner looking to take the business to new heights later. I’d also include a section as to the weekly hourly commitment of all parties before you launch.

4. Don’t Forget To Check Their Other Half

You’ve looked into your new business partner; credit checks, criminal history and maybe even taken some background references, you may have veen known them for many years anyway….BUT what about their “other half”. The only person as invested in the journey aside from the Cofounders are the husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends at home. They will be hearing the wins, the losses, the excitement and the worry. They will have the ear of your business partner on a much more intimate level than you, what are they like? What’s their appetite for risk, what do they stand for. Some people can be very persuasive in relationships and can often advise otherwise sensible people to do some very strange things. I would always try and meet them a few times socially before committing.

5. Resilience Is Key

There are numerous personal attributes to look for, and some will differ depending on the business you are setting up. What you look for in a Business Partner within a not for profit, could be pretty different if you were to set up an aggressive start up looking to really disrupt a competitive market.
BUT… one personal attribute is transferable across the entire entrepreneurship / business scope…and that’s resilience. Without this in any venture, it’s going to be a non-starter.
“Let’s win, together”



I often write posts and emails like these free hand and don’t have time to check it. Please forgive the grammar and spelling. Like the world cup final being watched on a fuzzy TV in a crowded bar, the delivery might not be perfect, but it’s the content (if you are looking to start or scale a business) you are here for.

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