8 traits to look for in a business partner

Posted on 27 october 2017

Selecting the right partner can make or break your business, so it’s important to think it through and make the right choice. Here’s our list of desirable traits to look for, plus some tips to ensure the selection process is as simple as possible.

Whether you are about to start a new venture or have already launched your business, adding another person to the mix can work to your advantage. Find the right partner and you’ll have someone to share the ups and downs of running a company with, an extra pair of hands and a fresh perspective on problems and opportunities.

Here are eight traits you should be looking out for.
 
1. Expertise
A great business partner brings new experiences and ideas to the table, and has essential skills that your business might otherwise lack. It's worth identifying the gaps in your own skill set so that you can look for a person who will fill them. 

2. Vision
If you are both looking in different directions, your partnership may become difficult. You need to find someone who not only understands but also respects your ideas and believes in the business’s objectives.
 
3. Commitment
You agree on where you want to go, but do you both know how you are going to get there? And, are you willing to put in the same amount of time, effort, enthusiasm and – if necessary – capital?
 
4. Attitude
We all want to work with people we like, and while your business partner doesn’t need to be your new best friend, you should look for someone who is friendly, positive and enthusiastic. A good sense of humour goes a long way, too.
 
5. Communication
Honest and open communication is essential. You want a business partner who takes a collaborative approach to problem-solving, can handle constructive feedback and isn’t afraid to speak up when they need to.
 
6. Proactive
Are they looking to make a genuine difference to the company? A great business partner goes above and beyond the day-to-day running of an organisation. They are constantly looking for ways to improve processes and are always keen to implement new ideas.
 
7. Creative
Creative people don’t see problems, they see opportunities. They are passionate about everything they do and take immense pride in their work. Thinking outside the box might sound like a cliché, but a bit of innovative brainstorming can help your company stand out from the competition.
 
8. Team player
You might have established a great professional relationship with your business partner, but how do the rest of your team feel? You need to find someone who places an emphasis on the company’s success rather than their personal success.
 

What else do you need?

It's time to be brutally honest. Having considered the eight attributes above, turn your attention to your own traits. Ask yourself: what kind of person would be a good fit with your personality? If you have trouble keeping on top of invoices and orders, then look for someone who is highly organised. If you would prefer to leave the profit and loss sheets to someone else, then seek out a numbers whiz. Is pitching to investors and liaising with suppliers your strength? Then divide up responsibility so that you are the face of the company while your partner keeps things running behind the scenes. Be realistic about how you can complement one another.

Finally, be practical. Your choice of business partner should ideally live nearby and be easily contactable at all times. You will be sharing responsibility for the company, so it’s important that you can regularly meet up and react quickly to any problems. In addition, do your due diligence. Before putting any kind of offer to a potential business partner, it’s essential you are satisfied they make the grade – carry out a formal interview and ask for references.

What can you do to make it happen?

You might already have someone in mind from your immediate social circle, or have a recommendation from a friend or member of your family. This can be useful, but it’s still important to check they are the right person to collaborate with you, and not just a reliable coffee date. Also, think about professional contacts you might have made over the years – people you have worked or studied with in the past.

Other options include networking events and making connections online through social media channels. Twitter is a good way to identify and chat to people within your industry, while LinkedIn is an effective B2B networking tool where you can search for people based on their work experience and ask for mutual contacts to introduce you.

No matter where you look for your business partner, if you keep the above tips in mind, you should be heading towards a strong start with your new venture.