What makes a good business partner?

I talked about whether a person has partnership qualities. Next, I talked about traits to avoid when looking for a partner. Next up, I’m going to discuss what makes a good business partner, specifically answering questions I often receive.

What makes a good partner?

There are a million and one traits that make a good partner. The traits partners need depends on the goals the partners want to complete. However, all partners should have at least these features:

  • Positive contribution to the business and their goals (no conflicts).
  • Passion, enthusiasm, and expertise. Being able to motivate and inspire is a plus.
  • Clear commitment to the business over oneself (I give an example of this later).
  • Make a commitment – deliver on time as promised.
  • Takes responsibility for their actions.

Pretty straight forward, right? Let’s get to the harder stuff.

Do friends make good business partners?

Usually not simply because, as friends, they tend to skip the crucial steps that are needed to set the foundation for the partnership. For example, many friends skip a partnership agreement thinking their friendship solidifies them. Wrong. Unfortunately, skipping this step means they skip important discussions like roles and responsibilities, equity division, what happens to the business if the partnership fails, authority, rewards, entitlements, etc. It is inevitable there will be bad times. That’s life. Since most friends skip these discussions, when things go bad there is nothing to fall back on except emotion, failed perceptions, etc.

Friends entering into a business relationship realistically works out well. They’ve discussed all the important issues and do not have unrealistic expectations. Decisions are made together and the failure of the business has no impact of their friendship.

Some examples bad friendship dynamics:

The friends want to be a huge success, popular, etc. – It is fine to have goals like this but what normally happens is that one shines and excels faster than the other. That places stress on the friendship. It also places the one excelling faster (getting more attention, more friends, more followers, etc.) in an awkward position.

Emotions get in the way – A disagreement in business can often turn into “I thought you were my friend!” The higher level of pain or frustration, the more likely this is to happen. Usually, the reason why this happens is due to lack of a partnership agreement. Certain situations would never come up with a partnership agreement in place. If you have an emotional friend think three times before forming a business relationship with the person.

The other side of the coin: someone who can disconnect and detach business from friendship issues. I was trained at a young age to detach. In business my friend and I might have a disagreement. That’s normal and natural. However, at the end of the day I’d still want to go to the movie we planned to go to when my friend is still pissed off. Some people can’t switch gears and detach because their emotions get in the way. Most people can’t detach like this so don’t place people on unrealistic pedestals. Just know going in what you’re getting into with emotional people.

Should there be a romantic tie between partners?

Romance between partners can work out well if they have realistic expectations. In my own experience, romantic relationships in business were a relief more than a detriment. When we had a disagreement (business or personal) we could take a quick trip to get away and heal. The intimacy and fun on the trip literally washed away the negative discourse. The ability to compromise and find a neutral meeting ground was easier because we took the stress away. Of course, the same thing could be accomplished without spending a dime, I just like taking trips.

With a platonic partner it becomes complicated getting away to heal or even spending extra time together to neutralize things, especially if the other person has a spouse. How will the spouse feel being left at home? The same experience will not occur with the spouse coming along. It is a completely different dynamic.

Unsteady romantic relationships will lead to unsteady business relationships. Keep in mind that most romantic relationships you encounter aren’t meant to be. They are temporary learning experiences. I’ve known people who stopped their romantic relationship, remained business partners and married other people. The people involved control their destiny.

For the most part, no they don’t work out because the romantic relationship was doomed from the beginning.

How many partners should a business have?

In my experience, two is the magic number (you included). You can have more but this usually opens the door for more disagreements and bickering over small things. With two people total, you can hire employees to fill in where needed. I’ve seen successes with more business partners but two people partnerships reign success wise (from my experience).

Keep in mind…

You might not find the right business partner the first time. It might take you a couple of tries. Remember not all businesses need a business partner, so do not feel pressured into getting one.

Keep in mind that a partnership is like a marriage. Some work, some don’t but your business partner can easily become closer to you than your spouse simply due to the amount of time spent together.

**This will be the last article until after New Years. I want to wish everyone a Happy New Years!!! Stay safe.**