5 Questions to Ask a Potential Business Partner

5 Questions to Ask a Potential Business Partner

It’s tempting to think that nothing will go wrong, but butting heads with your business partner happens more than you think.

Different perspectives are welcome and help you make better decisions, but making sure that you and your partner are on the same side will prevent irreconcilable harm.

Trust your gut, but ask these 5 questions before allowing your partner into the arena.

1. Who’s going to do what?

Everyone has their strengths, and it’s important to figure out whether or not your potential partner can fill in the skills that you don’t have. Who’s great with coming up with buzzy ideas and the other amazing at execution? Who has exceptional computational skills or a creative eye? 

We see the most iconic duos complementing each other’s skills nicely and making up for each other’s weaknesses.

2. Do your ethics align?

Moral quandaries are the worst to deal with, especially when they conflict with how you want to realize your vision. When vetting your business partner, you want to figure out how they handle conflict in business. Ask how they’ve handled previous disagreements or how they demonstrate integrity.

If you’re working together, they represent your company and so do their actions. You want to avoid their actions reflecting poorly on you. After all, business is a people’s game, and you can only get so far if people believe you are a poor judge of character.

3. Do you have enough room for them?

Even though we like to think of it as no hard feelings if a company tanks, the reality is that your partner wants to have the cake and eat it too. Before bringing your partner on board, you need to figure out how to split the profits and be able to pay for his or her time and energy. 

Does your business perform strongly enough to even have profit to split? Does your company even need an additional party to keep running? Since it’s your company, your income obviously comes first. After you figure out how much you need to earn and keep the company alive, calculate how much profit you can dedicate to your partner.

4. What do third parties say?

They say it’s who you know, not what you know. Networking is the name of the game, and you wouldn’t bring on a business partner without doing your due diligence. 

Sleuth around to see what the buzz is all about. It’s always good to get a fresh perspective from an objective third party and see what a partnership would mean to the company.

5. Are you willing to risk the relationship?

No matter how outstanding your potential partner might be on paper, there’s always a chance that your personalities or ways of working don’t click. Before entering a business partnership, consider your current relationship and how it may be affected if there is conflict. Will the two of you be able to smooth it over peacefully or maturely? Or will you both end up smack-talking your partner behind his/her back? 

Your business partner doesn’t have to be your best friend, but the both of you need to be coordinated and present a united front. After all, potential customers, clients, and investors can easily sniff out if there’s discord in the air and will avoid drama at all costs.

Nicole SwartzFormation