26/02/2015

By Chris Smith, CEO at digital recruitment specialist Opinio Group


Think about this - you will spend more time with your business partner than you will with your wife or life partner. It’s scary but true, so how do you go about choosing the right one?

In summary, there is no secret recipe. As with anything in life you will have to make the best of the choices you have in front of you.

However, based on my own experiences, I can guarantee that the following will be universally true.

Same mountain, different sides

It’s crucial to partner up with someone who has the same overall goals as you but, more importantly, they need to have a different yet complimentary skill set to you.

There is no point in having a business partner who can only do what you do – it’s your responsibility to yourself and the business to find someone who completes the skills jigsaw so that together you can handle anything.

In short, the underlying ambition and drive of your business partner must align on a personal level with your own goals and ambitions. Their drivers and passion will be key to you achieving success, so think of it this way – you are both climbing the same mountain but make sure you do it from different sides, that way you’ll always reach the top.

Healthy friction and blood on the walls

If you and your business partners agree all the time then hit the red button!

There needs to be a healthy level of friction, as disagreement is the only way that ideas get tested. Healthy and sometimes heated arguments should be viewed as a positive. It’s better to find a fault with something together, within the four walls of your business, than for the market and customers to find it for you – they are far less forgiving.

It is therefore vital that you accommodate, and even encourage, discussion and debate. Never become nodding donkeys with each other and always listen to each other’s “gut instincts”, even if there are no facts or figures to back something up. If it doesn’t feel right to you then you owe it to the business and to your partner to speak up and say so.

Remember, it’s easier to get the blood off the office walls than it is to stop your business bleeding in the market.

Trust and trenches

Your business is your baby. Your business partner therefore has to be someone you can trust with your baby.

Your business is your livelihood. Your business partner therefore has to be someone you can trust with your wallet.

Your business is your future. Your business partner therefore must be someone you can trust to stand by your vision of the future.

You get the picture - trust is such a key ingredient in any relationship but never more so than in a business partnership. Never ever forget that trust is the cement that will enable everything, from taking a break right through to making better and quicker decisions.

As for the trenches, you need someone who will stand behind you and fight tooth and nail to achieve any goals for the good of the business. Be under no illusion, business is always a battle, be it winning new clients, holding onto existing ones, delivering new services to market and so on. The business partner you need and deserve will be the one who at the end of a discussion, even if still not 100% persuaded as to whether or not something is right, will say “you know what, if you still believe it and want to give it a go, then I’ll give it 110% to make it fly”. That’s also exactly the sort of person you would want with you in the trenches.

Grow, smile and enjoy the journey

To take us back to the start, you will spend more time with your business partner than you will your life partner so, as in life, never close the door on an argument - and end each day with a smile.

It’s beyond important for your own sanity that your business partner is someone with whom you can happily grow and develop - someone to share a barrel of laughs with and crack a smile with at the end of the day. That someone who you want alongside you on the greatest and most exciting journey you can have – owning and running your own business.

Like I say there is no secret recipe, you’ll generally just know.