Starting a business with a friend or partner sounds fun until conflict arises and in the business world, conflict is guaranteed. Here’s ten questions to ask before committing to that partnership.
1. What do I need a from a business partner?
Potential business partners should compliment your skills and personality; they should bring balance to the business.
2. What’s their current financial situation?
Do they have loans, debts, IOUs to other businesses, unpaid invoices? Are they paying alimony or child support? Financial woes will influence how they make decisions within the partnership.
3. What are their expectations on time involved?
Time spent doesn’t have to be equal; however, the expectations have to be clear to avoid upset and/or disagreements. It’s common to have an agreement where partnerships trade time for operational control.
4. Are you both equally committed?
The answer has to be ‘yes’, it’s not going to work if both of you aren’t 100% committed to the business and the process.
5. What is their family life like?
Being aware of any possible strains (i.e. caring for elderly parents or sick relatives, expecting spouse, etc) is vital because it will affect their ability to be present.
6. How do they solve problems?
Look at how they’ve solved problems in the past: Did they do they right thing?
7. Are there any questions for me?
Silence is deadly in partnerships. Communicating expectations, clarifying what was said and asking questions is important.
8. Do they have a good reputation?
There should be a healthy ‘get to know period’ before making any final decisions on partnerships. Ask around about them. Ask their former employees, employers, vendors—anyone about their attitude and behavior.
9. Are they willing to put everything in writing?
Long gone are the days of shaking hands and trusting people—put everything in writing so there’s a legal document to fall back on.
10. Do I really need a partner?
You may need to hire someone or contract out work instead.
A partnership is often a long term, expensive, agreement, it’s important to choose carefully and strategically.