Traits to Look for in a Business Partner

By: Jordan Whelan

The process of seeking out of a partner for your venture is analogous to dating. There are risks of deception or the “bait and switch”, skeletons in the closet or the threat of misrepresentation.

ID-100223617To build up trust with someone you engaged in a venture with takes up to 6 months however you will likely see many “cracks” before then.

Besides building up trust with your partner, you should also have a humbling discussion of what each person is bringing to the table both in terms of finances and skill set.

You want to make sure you complement each other. The less overlap in financial resources and skills, the better.

I recently sought out a business partner for my third business, a team of media buyers in Canada, called Grey Smoke Media.

Here are five traits you should seek out when sourcing your partner:

1. Urgency – I’ve spoken at length about the need for entrepreneurs to develop fire around what they do. Business is a dog eat dog world that waits for no one. Even when you’re on top, you need to act like it could be taken away any second. Many entrepreneurs have a fast talking, fast thinking mind that doesn’t wane.

2. Risk Takers – Running a business is tough. It is even toughed when you weigh the odds of your success. More than 90% of businesses will fail over a two year period. Pick a partner who has a tolerance for risk on both an emotional and financial level.

3. Confidence – If you are going to be successful at any business, you need to become an expert in that business. Extra bonus points if you love that industry. There is a great deal of education involved in launching your business. There will always be people more experience or well-read than you. How will you make up the deficit? Find someone who can walk into a room with enough confidence they can assuage any fears by customers or investors.

4. Seller – Entrepreneurs are selling their businesses 24/7 to anyone that will listen including investors, customers, and the media or even potential employees. Selling is about messaging and psychology. Find a business partner who can properly read the person they are speaking to and package it to fit their needs. Avoid anyone who has a problem with coming off as genuine.

5. Sacrifice – So much of starting a business is giving up other parts of life to put your heart and soul into it.  Are you partnering with someone who has a very rich social life and would have trouble leaving it behind? Marriage, Money, Kids. These are all real discussions that need to happen.

Jordan Whelan, BCom ’08, is an entrepreneur who serves as president of Media Buying and Strategy Agency, Grey Smoke Media. His latest e-commerce venture, Etsy Alternative, Framestr allows users to get paid cash for sharing products among friends.

Want to learn more about strategic partnerships and alliances? Attend Altitude Accelerator’s Lunch&Learn on June 22! Register now.

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