No matter how smart, driven or passionate you are, there might come a time when you need help – whether in the form of capital, inspiring your staff or winning new business. The right business partner can be like a turbo boost for your business – new energy, fresh ideas and decision-making power. The wrong one can cause you endless sleepless nights. We’ll guide you through the process of finding a business partner to help you make the right decision.
The questions to ask
Before you start meeting prospective partners, spend some time defining your strengths, assets and goals. Prepare a list of questions, research your candidates and make sure do the following:
- Identify areas where you need help: For example, you might never have time for marketing or don’t have sufficient technical knowledge. Ideally you want a partner with skills you don’t have.
- Determine what you have to offer: This is your sales pitch – what you bring to the party. Make a list of your assets and strengths (e.g. client service, marketing and design).
- Define your ideal candidate: It’s not just about who you ‘like’. Define what the person’s role will be and your expectations of them.
- Discuss business goals: Be sure to agree on the future of the business. Do you want to create a lifestyle business or sell it on in a few years’ time?
- Be frank about finances: If you are merging with another business, ask to see their financials and be prepared to share your own. Just like a marriage, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and what each person is bringing to the partnership.
How and where to find a business partner
Ready to team up but don't know where to start? Here are a few ideas:
- Conduct initial research on social media: A platform such as LinkedIn is an excellent source of free career information where you can search by industry or check a prospective partner’s work experience.
- Choose a friend or family member: Many entrepreneurs choose to team up with family or friends. After all, you know and trust each other.
- Work your personal network: Personal introductions carry a certain level of trust, so put the word out with family, friends and acquaintances that you are searching for a partner. Word of mouth can spread quickly. You’ll enjoy the peace of mind that you are getting a personal recommendation.
- Partner with a former colleague: Make contact with colleagues you worked with in the past that you felt a connection with. If you recall someone with good organisational or management skills, look them up.
- Turn to your academic networks: You never know – an old university friend or classmate might now be the perfect finance manager you need. Attend reunions or other events.
- Industry and professional organisations: Look for potential business partners at industry-specific or professional association meetings.
- Attend networking events in your area: These often have meet-and-greet sessions for delegates.
- Ask a mentor: If you have a mentor, ask for introductions. An experienced mentor might have a wider network and because they know you well, will make a well-informed recommendation.
- Consider a competitor: Combine forces with a competitor and you’ll both be in a stronger position.
Take your time – business is for life
Never feel the pressure to rush into anything, even if you feel flattered, nervous about a competitor taking your business or just plain tired! The right partner can help you build a great business but be sure to pick someone with shared values; someone who has passion by the bucket loads.
Take a look here for more business advice from Santam.