Starting a business solo can be daunting. In the early days you’ll be wearing lots of different hats – from marketing and sales to financial control and admin – as well needing to remain committed and enthusiastic about launching a business. That’s why many entrepreneurs look to find a business partner to share the load and help get their business idea off the ground.
Working with a business partner has a huge number of benefits. It helps make running a business easier and more enjoyable as demanding workloads can be shared. Good business partners bring additional skills, such as sales or marketing experience, that you may lack. Having a business partner to bounce around ideas with and who shares your passion and vision for the business can help your startup succeed.
However, while finding the right business partner can fuel your business’s growth, teaming up with the wrong person can spell disaster for your fledgling business. Mismatched personalities, different visions for the future of the business, and even different work ethics can see a business collapse as partners fall out.
Where to find a business partner
While most people go into business with someone they know, there are lots of ways to find a business partner – from friends and family to more formal networking events.
It’s not surprising that many startups are launched by with former work colleagues. Businesses are often created through bouncing around ideas at work with colleagues, before taking the plunge and starting a business. The advantages are you already have experience working alongside colleagues and know that you can tolerate each other’s moods, behaviours and approaches to work.
Family and friends
Launching a new business with a friend is fairly common, while partnerships with family members and siblings can work well if you share a similar drive and vision. It’s important that everyone is clear what they want to get out of the partnership. However, it can be difficult to find the necessary skills among family or friends to make a business succeed, and if the business fails you could end up losing a friendship or damaging family relationships.
Networking events to find a business partner
If you’re not able to start a business with friends or family, there are plenty of online and offline networking communities that can be a great way to find a business partner. Dedicated websites have launched to help match entrepreneurs with potential business partners – though it’s best to attend face-to-face networking events to meet people.
Investigate whether your industry or professional trade body runs suitable networking events. Other options include:
Federation of Small Business
Runs regular FSB Connect networking events across the UK. Meetings are held in most major towns every month or two and include the ability to promote your business and listen to a business speaker.
British Chamber of Commerce
With hundreds of local business chambers across the UK, your local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start, with many hosting networking events and seminars.
Community meeting websites such as Meetup.com also arrange get-togethers on all manner of topics and activities, including business.
How to choose the ideal business partner
Take time to find the right partner for your business – ideally they should add more to the business than just extra investment. It’s no surprise that many people liken a business partnership to a marriage or romantic relationship. And much like a romantic partnership, you need good compatibility. To help find the right person, consider the following:
What sort of partner do you want?
Do you simply want a silent partner who invests money but is remote from day-to-day activities, or someone to actively help you run the business?
Look for someone with complementary skills.
If you’re more creative you could look for a partner who is more organised and happier to handle business admin. If you prefer to quietly get on with the work, look for someone who excels at promoting the business, pitching and landing clients.
Choose someone you can trust.
This is where partnership with siblings, family members, and friends have advantages as these are often the people we trust the most.
Choose someone who is passionate about your business.
They need to be hungry to succeed, and share your commitment, work ethic and drive.
Define the partnership.
It’s important to discuss how the partnership will work, your respective roles and areas of responsibilities, financial commitments, investment in the business and financial expectations. Put in place an exit strategy should it not work out.
Get it legally documented.
Get a solicitor to put a contract together that legally defines your partnership, including any equity stake you have in the business, and what happens should one partner want to leave.