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Choosing to start a business is a huge decision, but choosing who will run the business with you is a life-changing decision. This person can literally make or break your career and they are crucial to the success or failure of your business. It can be extremely stressful to make such an important decision, but don’t panic! Here are several things to consider before deciding to get a business partner.

1. Is it necessary?

If you have started your own business, it’s your baby. It’s rare to find someone who will understand your passion and put as much thought and care into this business as you do. Before handing over part of your business, make sure that you absolutely have to. If you can run the business alone and be successful, there is no need to share your profits and give someone else the power to make decisions about the direction of your business. Many people bring on a business partner for financial backing, but be sure to look into your other options first, such as a small business loan. Before jumping into anything, decide if its necessary, and if so, decide if you are ready. Alternatively, if you do need more hands then hire them.

2. Do you like this person?

Having a business partner is essentially like entering into a career marriage. You will be spending the majority of your time with this person. Do you like them as an individual? Do the two of you get along? Most importantly, do you trust them beyond a shadow of a doubt? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then they are definitely not the right business partner for you. Just like your love life, don’t give up searching until you find “the one” who meets all of your criteria. Never settle!

3. Do they share your vision?

Just because someone has the same passion as you do, doesn’t mean that they have the same vision. While they may be as enthusiastic about your business as you are, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the same direction in mind as you do. This person will have the power to make decisions about the future of your business, so be sure that you are on the same page prior to making them your business partner, and be sure to have an extremely detailed contract in place.

4. Do they know what you expect from them?

There are different types of business partners, and some may be silent, while some may be active in the daily proceedings of the business. Before you enter into an agreement, make it very clear what each of your roles will be in the partnership. Who will handle the customer interactions, the finances, or the hiring? Play towards each of your strengths, and find a way to work together while maintaining open communication and staying organized.

5. Is this long-term?

Decide up front if you want a business partner for the duration of your career, or if it’s more short-term. If you are looking for a long-term partner, be sure that the person you choose wants the same thing. No matter what you decide, be sure to outline in your written agreement how you will divide your assets or provide compensation should you or your partner decide to go your separate ways.

It can be downright scary to make such a huge decision, but stand by your values and principles when making your decision, and be sure to communicate those to your potential business partner. Above all, trust your instincts, and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Stand up for yourself and your business and don’t accept anything less than the best!


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