Three Things to Consider When Choosing a Business Partner

Tom Koulopoulos, founder of think tank The Delphi Group, says that businesses with two founders are far more likely to succeed than single-founder concerns. Adding a co-founder to your business venture can increase your investment by 30 percent and help grow your customer base up to three times more quickly. So if you're finally getting serious about that great idea you have, you may want to start by finding someone willing to help you develop it.


Choosing a business partner, however, is not a decision to be made lightly. Make sure you find someone who is trustworthy, reliable and experienced – and someone with whom you can work effectively.

Here are some things to keep in mind when considering a potential partner.

1. Consider your relationship

Many experts strongly caution against choosing a loved one as your business partner. Sandy Jap, a marketing professor at Emory University and the author of "Partnering with the Frenemy," says working with a friend or family member often causes business owners to make bad choices. 

"If you have a good relationship with someone, say a friend, that warm fuzziness you feel can oftentimes keep you from seeing clearly the economics of the situation," according to Jap.

UK-based business attorney Rahul Thakrar says the risk extends to the relationship itself. According to Thakrar, choosing someone with whom you already have a personal relationship places that relationship in jeopardy should the business go sour or conflict arise. If you decide to take such a risk, make sure roles are clearly defined and agree ahead of time on what you’ll do if the business runs into trouble.

2. Consider his or her past

Make sure the person you choose shares your values and that they have a history of work behavior that will complement yours. What type of hours do they like to keep? How do they function in a professional environment? “If your partner is used to working nine-to-five and you work long hours, you could have a problem down the road,” says Mike Michalowicz, CEO of Provendus Group.

Be very wary of someone who is unwilling to let you dig into his or her past. You want to go into business with someone who is honest and does not appear to be hiding something, according to Clark Valberg, CEO of InVision.

3. Consider the skills you don't have

Don't partner with someone exactly like you. Instead, find someone whose strengths are your weaknesses. For example, maybe you’re fantastic at crunching numbers but not so great at building relationships with employees. In that case, find a partner with great interpersonal skills who will make your employees feel valued. 

It's a big decision. Take your time and pick the person who will be the absolute best for your business.