There’s really no right or wrong answer to the question of whether you should have a partner in your business. I must admit, though, that I’m biased, as I chose 10 years ago to become a partner in a digital application development and professional web services firm.
Having a business partner is a lot like a marriage – in fact, I probably see my partner more during the week than I see my wife! Similar to when people say that marriage is hard work, so is having a business partner – but in both cases it’s worth it. Here are some quick advantages I see to having a business partner:
- Access to capital – debt and equity: Credit worthiness and, for some startups, credit cards, get you more mileage with two people and preferred treatment by VCs and investors.
- Coverage in areas you’re not particularly strong in: We can’t all be good at everything, but partners usually have different strengths that complement each other.
- Avoid inertia and paralysis: Having a partner helps you move forward in the deliberation and decision-making processes.
- Nobody is as invested in the outcome as an owner: It’s the old principle of having skin in the game. No one cares more than the folks who are invested financially in the success of the business.
- Brainstorming: There’s nothing like the free flow of ideas with someone who knows the business as well as you do.
- Sense of responsibility: When someone else is relying on you or expecting something from you, you’re more likely to perform without hesitation.
- Pick you up when you’ve hit the floor: You could argue that friends and family could do this as well, but no one is going to understand how you’re feeling like your partner.
So it’s easy enough to say that having a partner is better, but how do you find the right person? That part isn’t so easy. Here’s what I suggest you look for in a partner:
- Someone who complements your skills
- Someone who thinks enough like you to make planning and execution go smoothly, but is not a clone
- Someone with a shared vision
- Someone whom you can trust completely
- A really hard worker
- Someone who is smart - even better, someone who is smarter than you
- Someone who is passionate
- Someone you enjoy being with… a lot!
As I said at the beginning, there’s no definitive answer as to whether or not everyone should have a business partner. You can find wildly successful examples of people in all industries who got there with – and without – partners. My advice is that you explore your options and pick what’s right for you and your business. You just may agree that “two heads are better than one.”
Chris Karlo is partner at Mercury New Media (www.mercurynewmedia.com), a leading digital application development and web professional services firm. You can reach him at email@example.com.