There are limits to how far and how fast you can fly solo. That is why when most people start businesses, they usually do it with a partner. A spouse or a sibling is most people’s first choice.
With a spouse, however, you are more likely to get someone quite different to you in terms of upbringing and experience. With a sibling, there are more genetic and environmental similarities–even though two people born to the same parents can be different in many ways.
Despite all the conflict that relationships can bring, people still decide to get into them. No matter how high the divorce rates get, people still get married. Why? Because through an official union, we can do better. From a legal perspective, a marriage is a contract. The same could be said of two (or more) partners in a business.
We are forced to grow–sometimes in very uncomfortable ways–but in the end, it seems, it is more beneficial to be in a partnership than to not be in one.
But how do we know whether we have met the right person to be in a business with? Here are my top three criteria for choosing a business partner. You may have a different criteria in mind, but I think you can’t go wrong if you stick to these three.
Polarity? A rather odd word to use, don’t you think? How can two people who are polar opposites ever agree on anything? Well, you don’t want to start a business with someone who agrees with you on everything. But what two people do need to agree on are shared goals.
Two very different people will have two completely different ideas on how to get there. This simply means that the both of you have a different journey in mind. That is not a bad thing. Imagine if you had to make every decision and you were not aware of your blind spots. Think about all the mistakes you would make.
By having a partner on board–and preferably one that is different to you in terms of experience, gender and even culture–you will be able to see the same old way that you’ve seen things in a whole new light.
What a blessing, indeed.
How much time have you wasted doing tasks that you are naturally not good at? You will end up feeling like you are always compensating for your weaknesses instead of working on your strengths. A lot of the time, energy and effort can end up being expended on less productive and less profitable tasks if you do not learn to share or allocate the various responsibilities that come with running a business.
One person may be naturally more creative, while others may be better at organisation and operations. Imagine if the creative hat in the company had to do both. They would probably get a little crazy and a little run down.
To me, productivity boils down to one simple question: where is your time best spent? If for you, that means taking care of the business side of things, then that is where your focus should be. Leave the rest to other people who are better at it than you are.
Compatibility for me comes down to the software. We are all born with different hard drives, right? But my software needs to be compatible on your device and vice versa. What does that mean when it comes to running a business?
Well, in addition to shared goals (which is a must), compatibility is about knowing, without a semblance of a doubt, that my software (thought process, way of life, experience and education) will not be outright rejected by your hardware.
A lot of times when you talk to people and they very quickly reject your ideas without giving it much thought, it is usually because the software you are trying to input is incompatible with their hardware. Let me give you a simple scenario.
You come from a country where business processes are more formalised and rules-based. You end up working with someone who comes from a culture where things work on a more ad hoc and informal basis. Does that definitely mean you won’t be able to get along? Of course not.
But it will mean that the likelihood of compatibility gets lower as there isn’t a common hardware to work with. In that case, you will have to build a whole new hardware–and who knows how many years that will take?
Partnerships are how many businesses begin. Why? Because the benefits outweigh the risks very greatly. But for them to work, you need: shared goals with someone quite different to you, some basic compatibility, as well as knowing, without a semblance of a doubt, that the two of you are better together than you ever were alone.