How to Find (and Keep) a Business Partner
October 25, 2012 • comment(s)
Finding (And Keeping) A Business Partner
I can’t tell you how many times I get asked if my business partner is a female. When I respond “yes” the next question is “How hard is it to be in business with another woman?” I’m initially a little taken back by that statement considering it’s 2011 but maybe some people think women really can’t be in business together. A business colleague once hinted to me he thought women shouldn’t be in business together because they let emotions get in the way.
Suffice it to say, whether your business partner is male or female, it is crucial you understand what you are getting into. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “partnership is like a marriage” and I believe that’s very true. For better or for worse, you have to be ready to share in the joys of your business’s success and eventual pitfalls. My business partner and I acknowledge the fact we are very passionate about our business. However, we understand that we have different personalities and view situations in different ways. While we can agree to disagree, we also understand where each person is coming from.
Here are a few things you need to think about when deciding to go into business with someone (male or female):
Don’t Be Afraid To Have Hard Conversations.
You have to be honest from the moment you’re thinking about sharing a business together. This means being truthful about your expectations with the company, what role you want to fill and what you expect from your partner. You must have these conversations periodically to make sure you both are still on the same page.
Don’t expect your partner to be a workaholic like you. Your partner may work just as hard but at a different pace or schedule. If your partner has children, understand that your partner can’t be on the phone till 9pm at night. Find ways to accommodate each other’s schedules. My partner and I are both morning people so we schedule our sales meetings in the morning so she can pick up her kids from the school in the afternoon.
Appreciate Your Individual Strengths
You don’t want someone exactly like yourself being apart of growing your company. Everyone brings a unique talent or skill-set that compliment your own skill-sets. Before going into a partnership, figure out how both your experiences and talents can help build the business. I suggest both you and your potential partner take personality tests like Myer-Briggs or StrengthsFinders.
If You Disagree, Do It Quickly and GET OVER IT!
You are going to have occasional disagreements with your partner. Don’t spend hours or days harping on the issue. Realize the breaking point and step away from the argument to go cool off or think things through. As the business gets more stressful, it’s not going to do you any good to be at odds with each other. If you can’t get over one disagreement, you don’t need to be in business together.
Andrea Walker is CEO of W. Social Marketing and partner with MyMarketStreet. She currently runs the Birmingham Entrepreneur Women Series and serves on the board for American Marketing Association Birmingham Chapter and BBA Small Business Council. She is also co-founder of S.H.E.-Network, which aims to teach women in business technology & social media.