By Ory Olindo (@OryOlindo)
Growing your business is neither a one-day affair, nor is it a one-man or woman show even though at the start you have to do everything for yourself. Businesses tend to grow somewhat like trees; from a seed or sapling maturing to a full-grown tree. At each level, having a community around you makes a big difference in the area of support.
Advice abounds as some experts suggest that you should focus on what you do best and subcontract the other business functions right from the start. Others say that you should learn how the different parts of your business work before you subcontract them to someone else. Some people have a different kind of issue in building their business. Their strength lies in the creative side of the business, but they lack the business sense that is required to grow a business. Creating a partnership can help each of these people.
Many will tell you to keep your trade secrets to yourself, but like the saying goes, if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with someone. Too many times we try to do it all on our own forgetting that community can also be found in business.
On the other hand, many businesses have failed because of a poor choice of partner. There are horror stories of people who have suffered at the hands of partners. Money has been lost, friendships broken due to misunderstanding or lack of clarity when creating the partnership. There are a number of factors that can be taken into consideration when selecting a business partner.
Understand your goals; what do you want your business to do?
Many people are in business for the money. Others are in business because they enjoy doing business. Others still are in business because they have found that they can make money from doing something that they love and enjoy. Depending on your business goals, you may or may not require a business partner. Make it a point to clearly outline your business goals and establish what the needs of the business are to better determine what you require to meet those goals. Ensure that you are not trying to fly when you have not quite mastered how to walk.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses so that you know what you need
Business people have entered into partnerships without a proper understanding about what each person brings to the table. Most partnerships are entered into on the basis of money or networks. A good foundation for entering into a partnership is identifying your strengths and weaknesses. From that information, you can then select a partner who can balance out your weaknesses. This will give you the opportunity to decide if you want to work on your weaknesses and build them up, or if you would rather have someone else handle those areas of the business. The alternative would be to subcontract those tasks to someone on a part-time or full-time basis.
Identify the kind of person you need
It is easy to get into a partnership with a friend or relative simply because they are close to you, and they seem to be the best to work with. In some cases, this is a recipe for trouble.
Before getting into a partnership, consider the kind of person you need to take your business to the next level, rather than the person who is closest to you. Write out a job description of sorts and outline the personality, abilities, experience, and other attributes that are important to you when it comes to selecting a business partner. With this blueprint in hand, it will be easier to sift through the people around you and find the person who will best fit into the role of partner for your business.
Ensure that you share the same vision and values
As you narrow down your list of potential partners, polish up your business vision. Your search for a business partner will require that you articulate your vision. A vision that is clear and easy to express or understand has a better chance of being embraced or rejected by others. In your search for a business partner, it is important that the other person understand what they are getting themselves into otherwise you will find yourselves at logger heads, or cross roads. Also be clear on what your values are. There is a tendency to minimize values at the start of a partnership only to find that a clash in values is what brings the partnership to an end.
Write up the terms and conditions
Finally, put the terms and conditions of the partnership agreement in writing. Sadly, gone are the days of the
gentleman’s agreement. Ensure that a record is kept of what has been agreed upon. If need be, get legal advice for the same. Your business may be small at the moment, but businesses grow, and if things are to fall apart, the potential losses or gains may require legal redress.
If your business is not at the point where you are in need of a partner or are not able to find one who meets your requirements, make the most of the resources around you. You could work with friends and relatives on a short-term basis to ease the workload as you evaluate your situation. Another option is to make use of open source applications on the internet to automate your business so that you can focus on production.
A business mentor can also provide input and support to your business without you having to commit to sharing the profits.