When the heat’s on, will your finance partner have your back? Or will they buckle, and leave the relationship—not to mention your business—melting everywhere like some billion-dollar celebrity split?
Even if it’s not dive bombing, a business relationship that’s just plain terrible isn’t worth it. If you’re in one that’s costing you time, money, and peace of mind, it’s probably time to give it the ol’ chopping block.
At some point, shit will hit the fan… and you might be left cleaning up the mess.
Whether you’re bringing a limited partner on board to fund your startup, going fifty-fifty on a brick-and-mortar restaurant, or searching for a financial lender, you probably have some idea of an ideal partner. Someone savvy, successful, honest, and committed to your goals is a good starting point. Not rocket science. But finding someone who’s good for it, follows through, and actually gels with you can be harder than it looks.
Finding the Right Kind of Finance Partner
While almost everyone wonders “how can I find that person?” a better question might be something like ‘what can I do to become more like that person?’
More bluntly: am I the kind of person someone in my line of business should partner with?
Sharp question, right?
But while you can network, ask around, and advertise until you’re blue in the face—and you can burn through a lot of business partners while you’re at it—the truth is, it takes two to tango. What if you’re more likely (but not guaranteed) to attract an ideal, high-caliber business partner if that’s the kind of person you’re becoming?
Maybe we’re digressing… but then again, maybe not.
Single, taken, complicated—whatever your business relationship status, there are qualities that every business partner worth their salt should be shooting for. Aiming high means knowing what they are, noticing them, and taking steps to embody them yourself… even as you hit the pavement and hunt around.
And when you’re in a business finance relationship, it helps to keep an eye on what it should be looking and acting like.
Scanning the Checklist
Not all partnerships are built the same.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin bickered like a married couple. For a long stretch, Bill Gates got along swimmingly with friend-turned-business-partner Paul Allen.
Whatever they look like, the business relationships worth keeping—or getting into in the first place—make the cut for similar reasons. Along with straight-talking honesty, good decision-making, and skin in the game, partnering with someone whose strengths complement your weak spots is golden.
Drawing from our own experience in financing business development, and taking some pointers from Forbes Magazine’s thoughts on Finding the Perfect Business Partner, here’s our checklist.
A solid business relationship should be one where both partners:
1. Share a common vision
If someone has the cash, or even a connection, but sighs or yawns when you lay out the big picture… that’s a bad sign. Look far and wide for a partner who sees what you see and notes the obstacles, but shares your vision of how far it could go.
As in… answer each other’s calls, texts, and emails, at the very least.
3. Set goals and measure
Good business strategy.
Agreeing on goals, metrics, and methods for measuring them, (without going as far as a pre-nup…) keeps everyone, along with the journey, accountable.
4. Define roles and stick to them
Whatever your goals look like, define them. Defined roles raise your chances of reaching your goals. And when conflict hits, staying in one’s lane means a fast and focused response… not a mad scramble that could make things worse.
5. Give and take
In a close partnership, both sides will find it hard to measure every cost and benefit.
Soon enough, they’ll need to let go and show seamless reciprocity, trusting that the other is considering every interest and not just their own.
6. Get along
Conflict is part of the game…but do you want to argue over every small detail?
If not, then forget the brilliant badass with no people skills… unless you’re that much of a Dr. House fan that you’d work with him day in, day out.
Seriously. If we’re talking about long-term business relationships that build momentum and reach lofty goals, then we’re talking about work styles, communication methods, and personalities that are compatible… and good for the mileage.
7. Bring different but complementary skills to the table
Assuming you and your business partner get along, complementary skills and strengths make you stronger… and cover more than a few blind spots.
8. Commit and show up
One big test is whether or not someone’s committed to a business goal for the long haul… and all the bumps in the road to getting there. While there’s a lot of truth to the saying “no one summits alone,” it’s also true that long-term commitment separates the worthy from the shallow opportunities.
At least, that’s the way we see it.
A Few More Strategies for Finding a Business Partner
All this to say, choosing someone to partner in business with is no small potatoes.
But if you’ve found a potential partner—that is, if you’re on the edge of the diving board and looking to jump—consider a few practical steps:
Ask for references.
Ask for them, and then call the references. Then ask good questions. Nobody’s perfect. So they should be able to tell you about the biggest weaknesses (or “Things to know so I can make the relationship a success.”)
Take a personality test, (or have your candidate take one).
Along with Strengthfinders and similar programs, there are dozens of free tests that are good for identifying work and leadership styles.
Put the exact terms of the partnership, and any future exit, in writing
While you’re at it, don’t forget to touch base with a lawyer, or someone with legal knowledge of what you and your partner are getting into.
If these seem like too many precautions, remember the long game… getting into a partnership that gives you, along with your business goals, the best chance of succeeding.
A final thought: thinking carefully about your own role in the exchange, and the impact you might have on someone else you partner with, is more than looking out for your own future interests.
It’s also very satisfying… and part of growing into a better person.
All About Partnership
At Garrington Capital, we’re all in on financial partnership.
With alternative finance solutions for entrepreneurs, we work to help those picking up new endeavors… and that means sticking out the mileage through good times and tough ones.
What can be more satisfying than that?
Give us a call to find out more.