How to Select a Business Partner

In Kingdom Capital I wrote about how I plan on using business partnerships to accomplish my long term business goals. I am writing this post for two reasons. The first and primary is to work out some ideas in my head that I would like to personally implement in the next 16 months. The second is to share what I have learned about business partnership from the last 5 years of my own experience.

I originally attempted to create a list of roles or positions that need to be filled in any basic model but started to realize that this is a ridiculous task. Instead what I am going to do is create a list of contrasting traits of which I think both are essential. These are listed more as natural inclinations as opposed to values.

Aggressive Vs. Conservative

There are people that will naturally “go big or go home” and others that just want to go small and have a home. There are those that are constantly looking to expand the reach of their business and those that are naturally comfortable with focuing energy on tweaking current business models. Having these traits present in business decisions small and large can not only be profitable it can be essential. There are times when being to aggressive or conservative will destroy a business. Being idealistic can create a business but it can also ruin it. In a partnership, people should use their natural inclinations to make a decision but not be limited to them.

Big Picture Vs. Small Picture

Much of my critique from the first category applies here. In the book the E-myth, the idea of “working ON your business not IN your business” was presented. This combats people’s natural inclination to think small and try and do everything on their own. But this only works when you surround yourself with people that are able to carry out the tasks that are conceptualized in the big picture. People have a natural inclination which is an incredible asset when it comes to task accomplishment and energy allotment. Contributing your inclination to the business is an asset. Limiting your business by your inclination becomes a liability.

System Driven Vs. Relationship Driven

I am not content with these titles but I think what they represent is key. To a certain degree this category may be analogous with the Meyers-Briggs extrovert/introvert comparison and/or judging/perceiving scales. Some people derive energy from networking or negotiation with people some would rather commit suicide. The same could be said for sorting through charts of numbers. Both are essential to any business on some level and I think you would be doing a disservice by elevating one above another. Unless you have a partnership that brings contrasting traits, your business will mirror your own tendencies.

MY GOALS:

My goal is to create or join a strategic team that contains all of the roles and giftings that I do not have. This will do 2 things. First it will limit my liabilities and second it will create an environment where I can maximize my own potential. I picture a team of 5-7 guys that I can work with for the rest of my life. Keep in mind, when I reference gifting I am not talking about a specific field such as construction or retail. I am referring to the types of traits and strengths that can cross industries and business models. When I am looking for business partners that I can work with for the next 50 years there are 3 things I am looking for:

  1. Have similar goals and values (big picture)
  2. Have previous business experience
  3. Have previous business partnership experience

YOUR GOALS:

My list is in no way conclusive and maybe you value different categories.  In many ways an entry level partnership can be better than no partnership but I would also say that there are certain things like trust that there is no financial substitute for.

Next time I will post more on what a transition into this type of partnership may look like.

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