We asked members of the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) to share how they were able to find a business partner who was the best fit for them.
1. Work Together First
"If possible, work with that person before going into business together. My current business partner and I worked together at our last job 12 years ago. This prior work experience gave us the opportunity to get to know each other and learn each other's style. You are going to be spending a lot of time with this person in the stressful environment of a startup, so finding someone you like being around is vital."
Scott Wilson, EO New York
Co-Founder and CEO, Marathon Consulting, LLC
2. Connect with Family
"About 15 years ago, my cousin and I partnered up to form our agency. You always hear words of caution about partnering with a family member, but the advantage is that a more personal relationship can help you more accurately determine value alignment. Sharing values is more important than almost any other metric; they drive people to do extraordinary things, take risks, sacrifice, and work hard."
Curtis Priest, EO Toronto
Partner and CEO, Pixelcarve Inc.
3. Share the Ultimate Goal
"Alignment on the end-game is crucial. What is the ultimate goal of the company? Is it to create a lifestyle business or to generate revenue and sell on? The beginning of those trails can often look very similar to entrepreneurs, but they can diverge quickly if the destinations are not aligned. If you can constructively discuss your core values and outcome from the outset while figuring how they will play out in a variety of situations, it could make all the difference!"
Mike Stratta, EO Chicago
Executive Vice President, LimeGreen
4. Find Complementary Talents
"Ideally, your startup team will have diverse talents and a range of experience, including business partners with complementary skill sets. Having different strengths and weaknesses will make for a better partnership and will give your company the experience it needs. For example, if you are starting a software company and don't come from a technology background, a business partner with coding experience is extremely beneficial in the long run."
Charlie Brock, EO Nashville
CEO and President, Launch Tennessee
5. Investigate Financial Stability
"Any time there is equity involved, treat it as though you are getting 'married.' Definitely find out if potential partners are risk-tolerant, but also if they are financially able to embark on the endeavor. As with a spouse, it's important to discuss finances up front to avoid any surprises later. I do some angel investing in new businesses and in my experience, whatever the business plan says in terms of money and time needed to get to break even, the reality is it will take twice the money and double the time."