By Swapnil Shinde, a 3x entrepreneur, angel investor, and CEO & co-founder of Zeni, the AI-powered finance concierge for startups.
It’s so important for founders to select the right partner—whether that be the person you plan to go into business with, your investors or the leaders you bring onto your team as you grow.
This person, or people, will be with you through the highs and lows of running a business, and you want to make sure you can trust and rely on them.
But how do you find the right person?
Consider taking a page from the book on romantic relationships. Here’s what I mean:
• Personal life: Don’t select the most beautiful partner. Select the one who makes your life beautiful.
• Professional life: Don’t select a partner who gives you the best valuation. Select the one who can help you build the most valued company.
Combine the two and apply that logic to building your team. Hire people who excite you, complete you and can add the most value and beauty to everything you build together!
Let’s explore this further, along with some tips for finding the right business partner.
1. Assess compatibility.
Ultimately, most relationships come down to old-fashioned chemistry. But in business, people tend to underrate chemistry.
Chemistry is especially crucial when seeking venture funding and vetting investors to partner with you and your business. Prioritize chemistry with your investing partner, not just the prominence of the venture capital firm or fundraising goals. In the same vein, investors look for a match with their founders that goes beyond the product.
Whatever type of partner relationship you are exploring, if you don’t see yourself hanging out with that person outside of a business relationship, they aren’t the right person. Similar to any personal relationship, the person you can be open around and shoot the breeze with is likely who will be there for you even when the going gets tough.
2. Admit your weaknesses.
This is a tough one both in personal and professional relationships. But we don’t have to think of weaknesses as a bad thing.
The key is finding a partner who excels at something you don’t, such that your weaknesses are their strengths. A good business partner will have skills and knowledge that complement your own.
For example, if you are creative and passionate but lack business acumen, you will want to choose a partner who is good with numbers and has a head for business. If you are detail-oriented and organized, you will want a partner who is creative and can think outside the box.
Of course, finding a business partner with the perfect mix of qualities is not always easy. But if you take the time to look for someone with the complementary skills and qualities you lack, you can set your business up for success from the start.
3. Stick to your values.
Would you jump into a marriage with someone without discussing core values such as religious or political beliefs, money or views on children and parenting? Likely not.
Comparably, it is important to have shared values with your business partner to maintain a healthy working relationship. Knowing each other’s values and ideally sharing most of these values fosters deeper trust. Having congruent values allows you to trust your partner to handle important tasks and to have your best interests at heart.
While there are many factors to consider when choosing a business partner, these are some of the most important ones that can help guide you no matter what stage your business is in. Use these tips to find a business partner, investor and even employees with whom you can build successful and long-lasting relationships—and in turn, successful and long-lasting businesses.
Bonus points if you can make this premise work in both your personal and professional life!