7 Things to Look For in a Business Partner For Your Tech Startup

by Geekgirl, July 13, 2016

Choosing your business partner is one of the most important things you’ll do in your career. While the business idea may have been all yours, things are likely to go in a different direction once you have a partner. Business partners can offer helpful, insightful advice and uplift your ideas or bring them down.

Here’s what you should think about when you’re looking into potential business partners. While it’s always good to go with your intuition, these areas will guide your thinking and give you a new perspective.

1. Opposites Attract

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While you might think to go straight to a partner with a similar career path and aligned experience, it’s important to consider the benefits of background diversity. A business partner with a different background can offer a point of view that you would have never thought of.

Don’t automatically throw out candidates that have had no experience in your industry. They may open up your imagination and offer major growth opportunities.

2. Similar Values

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It’s great to have diversity in backgrounds, but when it comes to your values, you’ll want to be on the same page. Where does your partner see the business going? What are their biggest priorities? What values will you emphasize in your company culture? These are important questions to ask in order to understand what your business partner is really looking for.

In some cases, a business partner may imagine outcomes that you had never thought of and that’s great, but if they’re dreaming of something completely different for your business that doesn’t interest you whatsoever, it may be time to scratch them off the candidate list.

3. Potential for Trust

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Are your instincts telling you that you’ll be able to trust your potential business partner? If you’re imagining having to look over your partner’s shoulder and micro-manage all their work, you’ve probably got the wrong person.

Having someone else to help grow your company is the reason you’re looking for a business partner, so why work with someone who you don’t trust to do that? It’s not always easy to know who you can trust, so this is a time to go with your gut and look into their background.

4. The Ability to Say No

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You’ll want a business partner who believes in and lifts you up, but that doesn’t mean you need a yes man. Your partner’s ability to say no and stand up to you when they believe your wrong is an important thing to facilitate.

Especially as business owners, we make mistakes and when you’re about to do so, don’t you want someone to give you a warning. A business partner doesn’t have to be a constant contrarian to politely offer you their opposing opinion.

5. Friendship

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You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your business partner, so you’ll want to make sure you get along. Does your top candidate seem like someone you would want to be friends with? They should.

Working on your startup will be so much more pleasant when you like your business partner. Just use the road trip test as a way to sort this out. Would you want to go on a 10 hour road trip with this candidate? If yes than you’re well on your way to working with the right person.

6. Capital Contribution

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It’s likely that you’ve invested a lot into your business. Wouldn’t you want a partner who does the same? Questioning candidates for their interest in contributing to your startup financially can really show you how involved they are in the idea.

When a business partner isn’t able to make capital contributions, you can sort out what else they would be willing to contribute. You never know what hidden contribution someone might be able to offer whether it be an important contact or simply their time.

7. Openness to An Exit Strategy

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Before things even begin, it’s wise to consider how you’ll dissolve a partnership at the end of a company. Finding out what a candidate’s thoughts are on an exit strategy will help you understand what they’re looking for and how agreeable they’ll be when things come to an end.

Making it easy for your business partner to say they’re done is as important as it is to welcome then on board. You won’t want a partner staying just because they have to. You’ll want them to want to be there.

The journey to accepting a business partner is an exciting one. To have someone that’s excited about your startup and ready to help can be a welcomed relief to an overwhelmed Founder. These points provide entrepreneurs with a guide to considering who will make a great business partner and who it would be better to pass on.

What are your thoughts on working with a business partner?

What qualities are you looking for in a partner? Would you rather run your business yourself? Share with us GeekGirls what your thoughts are on this important decision.