Some pointers when choosing a business partner
Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs
There are many things to take into account when choosing a partner for your business, but among the most important or most common issues are the following:
Don't make your decision based on the fact that you like a person. Often friends and family go into business together for the wrong reasons. Liking your partner is a good thing, but it is not fundamental.
Don't waste time with people who don't share your vision. You have a dream for your business and it is important that there's synergy between partners. Partners should also share the same value system.
Integrity is one of those values that can be seriously undermined between partners and staff alike. Otherwise, decision-making based on a mixed bag of values and can cause mistrust and contention.
Balance of skills is also a vital factor and often missed in evaluating a partner. You could choose a partner who shares your vision and passion, but doesn't bring any real skill to the table. Is that the right person then?
What do you give back to this business?
Tensions can run high and when the going gets tough, there can be much friction around deliverables and roles. This can be avoided by setting out clear deliverables for each partner and what their contribution is to the goals of the company. Understand and respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Each partner's skill should compliment the other.
Remember that ambition comes in different packages. Mismatching ambition could lead to serious friction and problems in service delivery which will affect the company's profits.
If you're not the kind of person to share decision-making, then reconsider having a partner, especially if you expect your partner to take a major share in the business. Money isn't everything! Money can come from different sources. Your partner should offer a fair contribution for the shares he acquires. Rand for Rand investment is a good equalizer.
Don't make deals based on verbal agreements. This is a common mistake that when the verbal agreement is eventually put into legal jargon many issues crop up, which could cause contention.
A partnership is like marriage. In the beginning everything is wonderful until all the reality sets in. Be prepared for reality and remember that a business partnership is a relationship that grows over time through hard work and respect based on a sound value system.
Article by: Willie Nortier, Regional General Manager, Business Partners Ltd
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