One way to build a strong team for your business is first to find a business partner with the right skills to complement you. But, like with many other partnerships, business partnerships may not last as long as we want them to. Disagreements come up, sometimes mild, other times, serious enough to affect the business.
Individuals are different, so disagreements will arise. But if you want to build a business partnership that will last a long time, then there are things you should do from the outset.
1. Find a partner or partners that align with your values
Value systems will naturally determine the decisions you make at every point in time. So, selecting a partner with a value system that aligns with your value system will be a good way to start a partnership. This does not necessarily mean that you have to take the same decision every time, but it means that whenever a decision is to be made, you are both looking out for the same thing.
Do you both put the customer first? Are you both interested in building a product that gives value to the customer right away? Will you both be willing to put in the time and the hard work? Is one partner more concerned about making money right away instead of building the business?
While there is no right or wrong when it comes to value systems, it is important that your values are similar, or can at least work together without frequent clashes.
2. Find a partner with complementary skills
Getting a partner with the same skills may seem attractive, but it is more pragmatic to get one with complementary skills. If you are better with research and product development, you should consider getting a partner with good marketing skills, presentation, and even interpersonal skills. Many great partnerships we see between co-founders were built on this kind of arrangement.
When partners have complementary skills, there is so much you can achieve at the early stages of the business, even before you start recruiting employees.
3. Define your roles in the business
Once you have determined the most important roles your business requires from the beginning, define what each person will be responsible for. Don’t take it for granted that a partner will naturally assume the role that aligns with his skills. Together, the partners should discuss and assign roles in a way that every partner is involved.
4. Create a shared mission for the business
After finding a partner with a value system that is aligned with yours, it is important that you both sit down to create a shared mission for the business. You cannot just start a business and expect to take things as they come. Developing a shared mission for the business gives you common grounds to move forward.
5. Put everything in writing
There is no room for just talks in business, especially in a partnership. When you come up with a mission, a goal, a plan, financial targets, and projections for the business, make sure to put it into writing.
‘The shortest pen is longer than the sharpest memory’.
It is easier to make reference to what you have written down in the future, and it also serves as a form of commitment to both parties. If you have an agreement about equity and profit sharing, put it in writing as well. Oral agreements leave room for a lot of misunderstanding and disagreements in the future.
6. Be honest in your communications.
Both partners in business should be open and honest with their communications. Leave no room for assumptions. If you have a challenge in delivering on your role, share it with your partner. Share information and resources as it concerns everything in the business.
7. Make it legal
Everything should be legal from the word GO. You may get a lawyer to help you out with this when defining terms of the partnership, equity and profit sharing. It is always cheaper to have a lawyer set things straight from the outset rather than have a lawyer come in much later when you run into problems.
Bonus tip: Check each other’s ego
As the partnership grows with the business, you will both start to serve as a check on each other.