If you are planning on going into business with someone else—this is a great way to have someone just as driven and enthusiastic as you to pick up the slack or take care of things if you have to be out for a day or two—you don’t want to just jump into business with any random person. While a business partnership is a relationship, and is not that different from a marriage, trying to fix a relationship while also trying to build a business is never a good idea. Here are the qualities you should look for in a business partner:
Work ethic. Starting and running a business is going to be backbreaking work, from the moment you start it to the moment you sell it to someone else. That means you want a business partner who is going to be willing to work. You don’t need the additional stress of having to drag your partner along with you while you try to do the work that two people should be doing. Both partners should pull their own weight—that also means you shouldn’t be looking for someone who is going to take over the business and let you rest on your laurels. That just breeds resentment.
Vision. You have to be on the same page, not just when it comes to work ethic, but also when it comes to vision. If you don’t have the exact same vision for the company, then you will be pulling the business is two separate directions, ripping it down the middle. You have to be unified about what you want the business to stand for, where you want it to go, and what values will guide you. Having a conversation about these things before you go into business together is vital.
Ability to lead and to follow. While you are starting a partnership, most partnerships have one person who is usually the leader and one person who is the muscle. One person is often better at making decisions, while one is better at getting things done—and those roles may switch depending on the particular task or situation. This means that you need to look for someone who is as comfortable taking control as they are following behind, depending on the situation. The last thing you want is someone who demands to be in control, even if you are better equipped to handle that specific situation.
Loyalty. When you share a business with someone, there are shared responsibilities, many insider business secrets, and you will spend hard, long hours growing together. You want someone who is loyal and will stick by your side through both the good times and the bad times. You also want someone who will be loyal to the business and stick with it, rather than giving up and turning in their hat and coat when a better offer comes around. Loyalty is one of the best qualities in a business partner.