In many business situations a partnership arrangement is a good idea. Often this applies when a business is starting up, or is looking to expand or diversify. Getting a partner is okay if you already know someone that you want to work with, but what happens if you don’t? The fact is finding and then arranging a fruitful relationship with a partner is difficult, but here are some tips.
Where To Find A Business Partner
The best place to find a business partner is through people that you know. You might think that is an obvious answer and if you knew someone you wouldn’t need help. But approaching the people that you know does not necessarily mean that they become your partner. Instead they might know someone and will be able to make an introduction.
You are much more likely to be taken seriously if you get an introduction to a potential partner, particularly if you don’t already have a good business track record. So, think about your friends, family, colleagues (current and past), and people you went to college or school with.
- Who do those people know?
- Where do they work?
- Who do they come into contact with at work?
- What hobbies are they involved in?
- Who are their friends or family?
If you can’t get an introduction like this you will have to do a bit more groundwork. The objective is to make contacts with as many different people as possible.
- Go to business networking events
- Get involved on a voluntary basis with community organisations and charities
- Get involved with business organisations like your local chamber of commerce or Local Enterprise Office
Finally you can also use the internet to find new contacts. You might find your business partner directly by this method, or you can get an introduction to someone suitable. One way you can do this is by being active on social media. For example, you can get involved in a relevant LinkedIn group or Facebook group. Alternatively you can participant in discussions on business forums, or forums related to your industry.
Remember that making contact with someone on the internet is the same as making contact with someone in any other way – rarely is it a good idea to blurt out at the stat of the conversation that you are looking for a business partner. Social media, forums, and other platforms on the internet are instead places where you can establish relationships over time.
Making The Decision
Once you have found a possible business partner the next step is to make a decision on whether they are the right business partner. There is no real science to this as everyone is different and each business is different, but there are two main things you should consider:
- What are your weaknesses – your business partner should ideally fill these gaps
- What are your ambitions – any partner you go into business with should share similar ambitions to you
Then there are some basics you need to look at:
- Can you work with them?
- Do they have the necessary skills and experience?
- Do they have the same work ethic as you – you don’t want to be working through a weekend in a business where the partner finished up early on Friday afternoon and won’t be heard from again until Monday morning
- Do you trust them?
- Can you get contracts in place which clarify the arrangement?
Finally, you have to make sure the arrangement is fair. You don’t want to go through the whole process above only to discover six months down the line that your business partner lacks motivation because he or she thinks they don’t have a big enough equity share, or that they are doing too much of the work.
As you can see, finding a suitable business partner is not easy, but with some work it is possible.