Starting a business is a big deal. But as an entrepreneur, choosing the right business partner can be just as sizeable a decision to make.\r\n\r\nHaving a business partner means that you’ve decided to forego running the business by yourself, and are now trusting another individual to carry the weight of the company and all of its responsibilities with you. Finding the ideal business partner can be tricky—should you call upon family and friends? What about former colleagues, or clients? Ultimately, a great business partnership comes down to mutual respect and understanding of one another’s goals, ideas, and future plans for the company.\r\n\r\nThis article will provide a brief overview of what qualities you should seek in a potential business partner, as well as how to narrow down the search of potential candidates.\r\nFormer co-workers\r\nFormer co-workers can make suitable business partners for the following reasons:\r\n\r\n \tYou’ve already worked together on numerous projects for the same company.\r\n \tYou have a general idea of who they are and their work habits.\r\n \tYou likely share common interests and professional ethics.\r\n\r\nStart by examining your professional network. While your first instinct may be to hire your favourite old co-worker, who may have actually been more like a friend, try to think about other colleagues who are hard workers and possess a separate skill set from yourself. This will pay off in the long run when you and your business partner delegate certain tasks. Where one of you may have strengths, the other may have weaknesses. It’s also smart to look for individuals who also have an entrepreneurial mindset. LinkedIn is always your friend here.\r\nBusiness brokers \r\nA business broker is an individual who assists with the buying and selling of small businesses. You can find a business broker by contacting local real estate offices, or by searching online. A business broker could make a great business partner for the following reasons:\r\n\r\n \tThey are well connected in their community and have the potential to bring in business through existing business relationships.\r\n \tThey have a firm understanding of what it takes to run a small business and how to effectively negotiate deals.\r\n \tBusiness brokers have a specialized understanding of tax and legal documents and/or implications, which will come in handy during tax season.\r\n\r\nPartner matching websites \r\nIf you’re unsure of where to find a reliable business partner, the next place to look could be online. Much like dating platforms that pair two individuals with shared interests, partner matching platforms also exist with the goal of having two like-minded individuals connect over shared business goals. Always be sure to meet up with your prospective business partner in person to see if you’re a good fit. ever sign a contract with anybody until you’ve met them and can confirm they are who they say they are.\r\nFormer clients\r\nSimilar to former colleagues, former clients could make good business partners because there is a pre-existing business relationship. Before approaching a former client to join your entrepreneurial venture, consider the following:\r\n\r\n \tCheck to see if the individual has signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that would prohibit them from doing business with a competitor.\r\n \tBoth parties have already invested time, knowledge, and money with one another. Reassess shared goals and strategies to ensure this is the best route, and a good match.\r\n\r\nFamily and friends\r\nApproaching family and friends is a natural first step when starting a business, and they can also be a natural fit for joining you on your small business journey. Some individuals avoid asking their friends and family to run the business together because the lines between business and personal can become easily blurred. Although these are the people you know and trust the most, it’s always important to understand and assess the following:\r\n\r\n \tClearly define the roles of any family or friend you bring on board to avoid misunderstanding and miscommunication.\r\n \tBusiness decisions, including managing finances, should not affect personal relationships. Always try your best to keep your personal lives and your professional lives separate and as a distinct entity outside of the business.\r\n\r\nEvents \r\nPrior to COVID-19 disrupting the event space, networking events were often a great opportunity to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs and establish professional relationships in key industries. Consider the following:\r\n\r\n \tKeep an eye out for any virtual networking events. As these are all virtual, you can expand far outside your immediate circle and meet people from across the country, or even around the world!\r\n \tConsider downloading a networking app that allows you to locate potential business partners that you wouldn’t normally meet in person.\r\n\r\nTalk to a financial advisor\r\nA financial advisor is a person who is legally qualified to offer financial services or guidance to clients. Before choosing a business partner, it’s a good idea to speak with a financial advisor. \r\n\r\nHere are four reasons why:\r\n1. Small business owners wear many hats\r\nAs an owner, no two days are the same. Rather than trying to do everything, let a financial advisor help to sort out the financial parts. These individuals are experts in this area, and can offer many benefits, including issuing accurate projections, calculating and identifying risk, and better managing cash flow to avoid delays in the financial pipeline.\r\n2. Cash savings and more profits\r\nFinancial advisors can help you save time and money, allowing you to focus your efforts elsewhere in the business. Financial advisors are also skilled at handling more complex financial tasks, like monitoring ongoing business-related expenses, or setting up accounting and tax software.\r\n3. Financial advisors jumpstart business growth\r\nWhile you may have a timeline of goals for your company, financial advisors think differently and have financial goals of their own for your business. They can see things you may not have thought about, and can provide insight into areas you may have overlooked.\r\n4. Better manage personal and business finances\r\nBusiness owners often get so consumed with their new business venture that managing their personal finances takes a back seat. Alternatively, in the early months, they dip into personal finances to fund the business. A financial advisor can help keep you on track and come up with a plan to manage both sets of finances while mitigating risk.\r\nWhat to look for in a business partner\r\nWhen choosing a business partner or co-founder, it’s important to find somebody who will uphold the values of the company that you started. Ideally, the right person will possess some, if not all, of the following qualities:\r\nSkills and experience\r\nLook for an individual whose skills and experience align with the goals and responsibilities of your business. Also keep an eye out for an individual who may possess additional skills that could be of value to the company as it grows and becomes more profitable.\r\nEntrepreneurial spirit\r\nStarting a company isn’t easy, and it’s not something that’s done overnight. Sometimes, a successful business is years in the making. For that reason, you’ll need somebody who isn’t afraid to take risks, and is determined to encounter trial and error before finding success. \r\nStrong vision\r\nA solid business partnership is one where both parties understand and respect each other’s vision, beliefs, and goals of the company. Avoid choosing an individual who is argumentative, reacts negatively to your opinions and/or ideas, or is reluctant to take risks or entertain a different viewpoint or approach.\r\nNetwork and resources\r\nAs a small business owner, you’ve likely established your own personal and professional network. It’s a good idea to look for an individual who can bring their own network to the business partnership, so that the two of you can pool resources and become stronger together. \r\nFinancially stable\r\nAlways make sure the person you’re considering as a business partner has their personal finances in order before you invite them to have a hand in your business. Your future business partner should ideally be debt-free and not have any large outstanding payments that could negatively affect the company.\r\nQuestions to ask before entering a business partnership\r\nDeciding whether to hire a business partner is a big task. Before you commit to hiring someone, ask yourself the following questions:\r\n1. What do you need out of the business partnership?\r\nHow is this person different from you, and what can they bring to the table that you cannot offer on your own? For example, maybe this person’s analytical capabilities balance out your creative side.\r\n2. What is this person’s financial situation?\r\nCan this individual commit to entering a start-up environment, where their salary may not be as high as that of their former or current employer? Do they have any existing financial obligations or debts that could hinder their performance as a business partner?\r\n3. What are their expectations?\r\nHow much time will this individual be putting into the business? Will tasks and responsibilities be split fifty-fifty, or will you maintain a certain level of control over the business? How many hours will they work in a week, and can you afford to work less with their involvement?\r\n4. Are they committed?\r\nAs a small business owner, it’s important to hire a business partner who truly shares your vision and goals for the future of the business. This is where a fun business idea between friends can fail once both parties see the level of work required and the initial enthusiasm wears off.\r\n5. When things get hard, will they stick around?\r\nThe early months, and even years, of running your own business can be as exhausting as they are rewarding. It’s important to partner with somebody who understands the risk involved in pursuing an entrepreneurial lifestyle, and who can handle tough situations.\r\n6. How will they get paid?\r\nHow you structure the business may directly impact how your business partners get paid. It's important to understand their expectations around how the business will be set up and how they'll be paid over time. It's a good idea to consult with a lawyer and accountant to determine the business structure and payment terms that make most sense for you and your business partner.\r\n7. Will they sign a contract or NDA?\r\nYour future business partner must be willing to put the partnership agreement in writing. This way, both parties are protected from legal disputes, should one party decide to leave the business or sell their share. Drawing up a contract also ensures that both parties understand the terms and conditions of the agreement, leaving no room for miscommunication or error.\r\n\r\nAt the end of the day, hiring a business partner is not mandatory. A business partner should complement and add value to your existing operations. If you feel you can make important decisions and manage your business alone, then a partner might be something to consider when your company enters new stages of growth and development. However, if you’re looking for an individual whose skills and talents can bring value to your business, while also sharing the workload, this could be the perfect match!