Friday, January 30, 2015

Finding the Right Business Partner

I've had several partnerships over the years. You could say I've had the good, the bad and the severely unattractive. Partnerships in business are no different than partnerships in marriage or life. Your husband leaves the cap off the toothpaste; your partner doesn't like the cap off the pen. Well, it's not quite that petty (most of the time). I've rarely seen partnerships that flourish over the long-term. I do think for overall success once you entered a business relationship/partnership, you should use this checklist.

Tip: Take your time in evaluating a prospective partner! Like a marriage it can end badly or it can work wonderfully over the long haul.
  • Are you like-minded in a good way? Oh, you can be like-minded in a bad way, believe me. For example, strengths and weaknesses. It's better to be yin-yang and then simpatico in thinking than yin-what-the-heck? Like-minded thinking in the positive means your outlooks match on how to do things or how to manage the business. In the creative arts (like 3L Publishing) it means my business partner creatively thinks the same way I do. So we overall agree and see things similarly.
  • Do you respect each person's skills and expertise? Working with a partner and keeping the relationship balanced and in harmony requires respect. You have to respect (or even better ... really admire) your business partner's skills, expertise and experience. Respect and trust -- see the same as a marriage. Either of those two things go awry and just like a marriage, it can result in fighting and discord.
  • Fine-tune your listening skills. You need to be able to hear what your partner says and his/her perspective. It doesn't mean you always agree. It means you can hear that person out and be able to make compromises, but only compromises that better the business somehow. Listen to your gut, too, and know when the argument is valuable and productive to business. But at the same time, listen to what the other person has to say. The aforementioned respect and trust sometimes at this point have to come into play.
Now I took almost four years before I decided to partner again. I had some sore spots from the last time I embarked on that journey. I evaluated my current partner very, very carefully. It had more to do with my conservative nature and desire to drive the company to the next level of success. Sometimes you can't do it alone. But you also can't do it together unless it's the right fit. The right fit equals the right success! Think about it -- but think about it carefully. 

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