A true partner is someone who joins with you in an arrangement with a common interest that holds both risks and rewards. On a few occasions I’ve been asked how to go about finding the right business partner. I suppose it’s natural that I would get asked that question because in every one of my businesses I have partners…and I guess it’s not surprising that I don’t get asked how to find the right life partner because I’m not a therapist, but also because (in my opinion) people don’t really want to know. However, that’s an entirely separate blog post.
When my friend and fellow entrepreneur, Manav was looking into starting up a new business, he asked me what would be the best way to find a great business partner. Manav currently is the sole proprietor of a shipping company, and he was telling me about his plans to start up a completely new business. For this new venture however he wanted a business partner to help him run and grow the company. Seeing as I have partners in all of my businesses he thought I’d be the right person to ask for advice. I told him I would think about it and get back to him with my thoughts. Soon after that I received an email from a young woman who had seen an interview I had done, and decided to reach out to me for some advice on exactly the same subject.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that having the right business partner is very similar to having the right life partner. I’ve been married for eight years and we have our struggles like every relationship, but it dawned on me that I was also in a marriage with every single one of my business partners. Being in a business relationship with someone is truly like being in a marriage. The characteristics you need to have a healthy relationship with a life partner, are the same qualities you need in a solid business partner.
In all of my “marriages”, first and foremost, there is absolute trust. If we did’t have trust then we wouldn’t have anything. There would be no point to our union. Trust is the foundation to every relationship whether it is with your lover, your children, your friends, or your business partners. Of course trust can take time to develop, but the way I see it, it’s the first ingredient to having a healthy and successful partnership. It is worth investing some serious time in the beginning to build and gain the confidence, comfort and integrity that is necessary in order to move forward. Your potential partner needs to gain your trust, but you also have to gain theirs. It’s like dancing with someone for the first time – it’s awkward at first, but as you explore, communicate & assess everything falls into place. Sometimes the place you end up is awesome and exciting, and other times you need to turn your back and walk away.
I recognize many similar qualities in all of my partnerships…we live our lives authentically, we each have strengths & weaknesses the others don’t, we learn from each other, and there’s honesty, humour, flexibility and love.
If being with someone isn’t going to advance your mutual interests then you’re wasting each others’ time. There’s also nothing wrong with a few bumps in the road – they only make the union stronger as long as you start off with a solid foundation. I know this is nothing profound or new, but I think it’s crucial.