Choosing a Business Partner

by David Berghouse

I'm not going to go into the obvious criteria for the selection of partners such assuring they have the appropriate skills, experience and money - these should need no comment. The problem is that these criteria are often as far as most peoples' consideration goes. The questions of temperament, personality, values are generally not considered. This does not only concern their suitability to deal with customers in, say, a retail situation, but has much wider ramifications. It has a bearing on the chances of success or failure of the whole business regardless of the field in which you are operating.

Some of the essential questions to be answered include:

  • How their temperament/personality interacts with yours.
  • Are your working styles compatible?
  • How partners expectations will be realised.
  • Is there trust between the proposed partners?
  • How they respond, as against react, to adversity when the
    'chips are down'.
  • In an adverse situation do they act constructively to solve
    the problem or react to defend their ego.
  • Their personal security/maturity - can they accept constructive
    criticism without getting defensive. Again, do they act
    constructively to solve the problem or react to defend their ego.
  • Their emotional satisfaction in life. People that are frustrated
    in and with life tend to have short fuses (they operate close
    to the threshold of coping) and quite often can be fickle in
    their own commitment to their goals.
  • And not insignificantly, is there fun built into the partnership ?

If the answers to these points are negative, do not go into business with that person.

However on the other hand be realistic: you won't find the perfect partner, so some allowance for other peoples imperfections are needed.

And, be honest: you're not the perfect partner yourself, either.

In difficult business circumstances you need people who can be constructive and contribute to the solutions of the problem. You do not need some insecure ego-tripper who drains your emotional energy dealing with their hassles, so leaving you without the energy to work on solutions to the problem at hand.

Remember that the decisions that you make regarding the structure of the business are very difficult to alter at a later date once the business is operating.

David Berghouse author of BizNet: a Workbook covering the Internet and eCommerce for home based and small businesses... putting the puzzle together
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