Are you co-founder/partnership material?

You want to start a business but you realize you need at least one business partner. Before looking for a business partner, ask yourself if you are partnership material.

I received quite a few comments and questions, particularly about finding the right co-founder or partner. Let’s see if I can respond to some of the issues brought up, but first let’s cover the main issue.

Are you co-founder or partner material?

Billy has an idea for a product or service. It’s a really cool idea, no one else is doing “it” like Billy wants to. Billy thinks his idea will do well because it is unique. Billy realizes he probably needs some help because he can’t do everything on his own. Billy starts to look for a business partner….

Before Billy starts looking for a business partner, he needs to question whether he is partnership material. This is a very important decision that should be objectively looked at. If the outcome is Billy not being a partnership person, there are other ways that should be pursued to accomplish his goals. However, if Billy does not realize he’s not a partnership person and enters into a partnership anyway, that will guarantee a miserable working experience. Is Billy a partnership person? Let’s look at some common problems that hinder partnerships.

Billy rarely makes a deadline

Businesses thrive on deadlines. Not making a deadline on time costs money. Time is worth more than money. Billy thinks he can change because he’s so passionate about his idea. Of course he’ll make deadlines because it is important!

That rarely works out.

Let’s be honest. If Billy doesn’t have the traits needed right now, then Billy might not be ready to be a business owner right now. In a relationship, the person shouldn’t have to change for the relationship to survive. The same applies to business partners. Billy does not make deadlines – this is something he does by choice. His business partners would end up attempting to make Billy do something he opts not to do. The truth? Billy needs to delegate jobs to make a deadline (IF he is a good leader) because he is unable to consistently make deadlines on his own. Instead of having partners, Billy might do better being the sole-owner.

Billy does not work consistently

When it comes to self-managed jobs, Billy rarely works consistently on anything. He’ll start a project, stop, move to another, stop, perhaps go back to the first project, then he’ll stop for a couple of weeks. See the pattern? This ties in with his inability to make a deadline. It takes discipline to be your own boss. Most people do not have that type of discipline or ambition. The inability to work consistently presents a problem even if the person is a sole-owner. A sole-owner would still have to work consistently and efficiently to lead the company.

Can Billy communicate?

Billy doesn’t like confrontation. To avoid confrontation he tends to tell people what they want to hear, suppresses his anger/frustration/irritation and occasionally blows up when his emotions get the best of him. Billy is not good at expressing what is on his mind. Billy is not good at communication. His inability to communicate will cause problems whether he has business partners or not. More important, his willingness to tell people what they want to hear to get out of a situation instead of the truth leads to a bigger problem.

Can Billy be trusted?

When Billy tells someone what they want to hear over what is the truth, Billy is lying. Let me be clear: everyone lies from time to time. Some lies are crippling and devastating. In business, lying usually turns out bad because the person is lying about something that needs to be addressed. Think about the lies being told. Inability to make deadlines. Problems that need to be addressed. Disagreements about direction. These are all things that need to be handled not avoided. Trust is not only important with business partners, clients/customers/readers/etc. need to have trust in the company as well. This brings about another very important point…

Does Billy get along with the people closest to him?

Having business partners can be a deeper relationship than friendship because legally, you are bound to your partners whereas with friendships that rarely happens. When people partner together it is like a marriage and together you create a child – the business. The other problems listed above cause Billy to have problems in his personal life.

As with everything, your business will have problems and successes, hurdles and smooth sailing, frustrations and happy moments. The people you pick as business partners need to be able to go through those times with you, as a team. As a team, decisions need to be made. Keeping secrets, lying, and avoiding issues only leads to more problems long-term.

Are you partnership material?

So often people look for business partners before assessing whether they are partnership material. Before leaping into a legal binding relationship with someone, take an honest look at yourself and see if you are bringing what it takes into the partnership. I’ve found that people who have better partnership traits pick better partners.

Using myself as an example, I have a laid back management style. Unfortunately, I’m female so I have to deal with expectations. In business situations I’m not going to argue about something. Using my business experience I’ll ask if this is something they want to do, pointing out pros and cons. If they say yes, I ask are they sure. If they say yes, I’m done. There is no point arguing it.

Because with time, most likely I can fix it. 🙂

I might not agree but it isn’t worth arguing about. Of course, repeating the same mistakes over and over is annoying. There cannot be any growth that way but sometimes, one has to “do” to learn. Mistakes are a part of business. Smart business people learn not only from their mistakes but the mistakes of others. Consider that when deciding if you want business partners.

My laid back style can be a hindrance so I have to pick people who can handle it. If my business partner and I are disagreeing I have no problem taking a break, take the weekend, go to Vegas, have some fun, heal as a team, then come back fresh and deal with the issue. Surprisingly, a lot of people can’t handle that (I know, crazy, right?).

If you decide you have what it takes to be a business partner to someone, next, we’ll talk about what you should look for in a co-founder or business partner.