Tips on Finding the Perfect Business Partner

April 29, 2008

When working on a startup, it often becomes necessary to take on a partner (assuming you and a partner aren't already involved). This brings on a unique opportunity to find the right match for your company. This can be a crucial point in the life of your developing business.

So what's important when choosing a partner? According to Forbes, it's not enough to simply have a lot in common. Cloning yourself doesn't always work.

Rather than look to fill that spot in your weekly foursome, look to fill other, mission-critical gaps. If you are an engineer or nits-and-grits operations type, find someone who can sell ice to an Eskimo (or at least work a balance sheet).

A good business partner understands the importance of compromise--without being too compromising. The best partners also have the courage to address tough financial issues and even personal matters that might impact the company. Try to establish that rapport up front. As Rhonda Abrams, author of The Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies and president of the small-business-book publisher The Planning Shop in Palo Alto, Calif., puts it: "Date before you marry a business partner."

While dating, get a gander at the person's Rolodex. Solid contacts in your field and in the community--be it through local Parent-Teacher Associations or community planning boards--never hurts. "People buy from whom they know and trust," notes Robert Moment, a small-business consultant in Arlington, Va.

More on"dating" to find the perfect partner here. Plus, check out more on Abrams' book here.

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