How to Find the Right Business Partner

“Kristen actually became my business partner by happenstance. We ended up being on the same board of directors and found that we worked and communicated really well together. It was great! We didn’t have to work on the partnership at the board because we were so in sync. She told me what I needed and I told her what she needed.”

– Pamela Wasley

Pam and Kristen have been partners, at interim management services firm, Cerius Executives for well over a decade. One of the reasons Cerius has been so successful is because of the productive partnership dynamic driving the core of the company. Finding the right partner is integral to running and growing any successful business.

How to Find the Right Business Partner: Get a buy-sell agreement

Signing a buy-sell agreement before entering a partnership can solve a ton of problems before they happen. A majority of problems can be solved just by anticipating what can go astray in a partnership. A buy-sell agreement is critical to any partnership no matter how many parties are involved whether they’re family members, friends or with somebody you didn’t know before.

“It was very therapeutic and eye-opening when we went through all the questions that we had to answer for our buy-sell agreement,” says Kristen. “There were some squirrel holes we went down and have actually seen some of them happen. It’s actually therapeutic to think about what were we thinking back then. What do we think now? Do we need to update it? Do we need to change things? Or let’s just get a good look at our mindset when we put this thing together.”

How to Find the Right Business Partner: Don’t get a yes partner

According to Pamela, the last thing you want is a ‘yes partner’. She says, “If you have a yes partner, you might as well own a 100% of the company, and hope and pray that you’re going to do things correctly. Because that person’s not really helping you, they’re just saying yes to everything you ask them.”

You might be fooled into thinking that that person wants the same things as you. But what happens when you’re not on the same page and when you want to take a different direction? There need to be some disagreements that bring balance to the company.

How to Find the Right Business Partner: Do due diligence

Some partnerships like Pam’s and Kristen’s are formed by happenstance. There are events or moments where you just happen to meet someone with the traits and attributes you’re looking for in a partner.  Other times you actively search for one and meet different people hoping to find your match.

Either way, you need to do some due diligence before entering into a partnership. Even if you get along great and the potential partner seems to have all the qualities you’re looking for, research their background and past projects before committing.

Pamela advises making sure that the person you partner with:

  1. is somebody you can work with,
  2. isn’t a yes person,
  3. has ideas of their own, and
  4. most importantly is not like you.

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