Preparing for a partnership: Know what to consider

June 10, 2013 - Tags: Planning Startup

In many ways, a business relationship is like many other relationships in our lives. We want to partner with someone we trust, who has similar values, and who complements us in ways that will benefit both parties. Having a plan and determining specific qualities to seek in a potential partner can help make your decision easier.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Strong commitment and passion for the business — You may not want partners who are going to freeze at the first sign of trouble, or leave you hanging if they suddenly decide they're risk-averse.
  • Same sense of values and vision — It's important to be on the same page, but it may be best if you complement each other by bringing your own, different strengths to the table. For example, if you are really creative and outgoing but aren't great at balancing your chequebook, you might want to partner with someone who has strong financial and accounting skills.
  • Someone who will challenge you — If you trust and respect each other, you won't take it personally if your partner challenges you on certain ideas or decisions.
  • A partner with a good contact list — Having strong connections or experience in the field can go a long way in a new business, where people may be looking for references or a portfolio of work. Your partner may have testimonials from previous clients, or be able to call in a favour.

Even if you think you've found the right partner, you'll want to get some things in writing and make sure you agree on the ground rules in order for the partnership to work. Talk to a lawyer and draw up a formal partnership agreement. You'll want to address possible scenarios, and decide how amendments will be handled.

Define the roles and responsibilities you will each take on, and how you will divide the work; this is part of achieving business planning success. Assumptions are the root of many conflicts. Don't assume. Ask. Find out what your partner's expectations are of you and of the partnership.

Find more on partnerships in our section "Before starting your business".

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