- October 20, 2019
- Posted by: SAGEROCK.SRGROUP
- Category: General
The classic adage, “Two heads are better than one,” is famous for good reason – it is true in many situations, including in the business world. Of course, if you are looking for a partner for your company, finding the right mind (or minds) is crucial. Though time-consuming and often complex, this partner-seeking process can be divided into two main questions. These questions, and the answers that Varsity Tutors has taught me, are:
Where can I find potential business partners?
Business partnerships are almost always formed as a result of strategic networking. For most CEOs, their goal is to find a partner who has been highly successful in the same or a related industry, ideally at a company that was similar in purpose or structure. Take Henry Wells and William Fargo – rather than compete against one another in the highly competitive mail express industry, they joined forces in 1852 to create a stronger unified organization. Today, that organization is known as Wells Fargo & Company, the largest bank in the U.S. as measured by market capital.
There are a number of ways to find your own world-class partner for your business. One great idea is to reach out to members of the industry-specific and professional organizations to which you belong. You can also conduct initial research on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, or turn to your academic networks (i.e. your business school colleagues or college classmates). If you have a mentor, ask him or her to introduce you to any promising candidates who fall outside your immediate network.
How can I evaluate potential business partners?
Whether you identify one or ten prospects, your next step is to vet each person. Doing so is less about separating the “bad” prospects from the “good,” and more about selecting a phenomenal candidate who is a perfect fit for your business and you personally – and vice versa. To facilitate this process, you can:
1. Outline your expectations before you begin your search
It can be tempting to start a search with the simple-minded intention of “seeing what’s out there,” but your attempts will likely be far more productive if you first take the time to define your ideal candidate. Consider, for example, how you would like the relationship to function. Your expectations may evolve over time, and you can certainly refine your outlook as you meet with potential partners. The advantage in having even a brief sense of your preferences is that it can streamline and shorten your search. By defining your expectations you give yourself a more subjective set of metrics by which to evaluate candidates, rather than arbitrarily deciding whether you “like” the person or not.
Remember too that your prospects will ask you questions such as, “What’s your company vision? How do you work and manage? What do you expect out of a business partner?” Thus, both parties can benefit from your thinking about and answering these questions in advance.
2. Assess whether your entrepreneurial and financial goals align
According to one survey, the primary reason that B2B partnerships fail is differing business priorities. This can also be true of company co-founders or partners. For instance, are you and your candidate both committed to slowly growing a sustainable company, or are you or the candidate interested in more immediate gains? If your business priorities differ from those of your prospective partner, you may ultimately end up working toward separate goals, and this makes any partnership difficult to sustain. It is beneficial to define your business goals ahead of time, just as you would define what you expect of a business partner.
3. Seek third-party opinions of your prospects
Speaking with candidates is an invaluable way to gauge their work ethic and work habits, as well as whether your personalities and professional goals complement one another. In addition to your personal assessment, do a little more research and ask your prospects’ colleagues for their opinion of the potential partnership. People who have first-hand experience working with the candidate can frequently share insights that a short conversation over coffee simply cannot provide. Similarly, you can also ask your colleagues and mentors for their opinions to provide another set of eyes and opinions about the candidates you have in mind.
When you are selecting your soon-to-be business partner, take the time to get to know the candidates in-depth personally and professionally. It is critical to not rush into a decision and give yourself opportunities to find a great fit. You may have heard before that the relationship between business partners has been likened to a marriage. If this is to be a long and fruitful relationship, both parties must take the time to sustain and grow the collaboration. This successful partnership starts by carefully selecting with whom you partner.