Choosing a business partner is often compared to entering into a marriage.
Cofounders of a small business need to be able to tolerate each other through sleepless nights and withstand the extreme highs and lows that come with running a company.
When a partnership fails, it’s often so total that the personal relationship between the cofounders is shattered, as well.
As one of the “Shark Tank” investors, Robert Herjavec has spent the past seven years coaching entrepreneurs he’s invested in, including partnerships between best friends, family members, and those that were strictly professional.
Business Insider recently spoke with Herjavec during an event for the Small Business Revolution program, and he said that there are three main things entrepreneurs need to be conscious of before entering a business partnership:
You need to share a vision and get along well with each other
Whether your business partner is a family member, friend, or an associate, you need to have a strong personal relationship. Recognise that you will be likely be spending countless hours with this person, and will be making decisions that profoundly affect your lives.
You need to be able to trust each other with your livelihoods, and agree from the outset what you both want to accomplish.
If your partnership is a marriage, then the business is your baby.
“The business is a living, breathing thing,” Herjavec said, “and you’ve got to get along.”
You need to determine who has the final say
“It’s hard to get willful, tough people to work together, and it comes down to the partnership agreement,” Herjavec said. “It’s very difficult to have many captains of a single ship.”
He explained that a co-CEO approach can work in certain situations, but only if clear guidelines are agreed upon regarding who has final say in what areas.
You need to be able to let the person go if it doesn’t work out
“Kevin [O’Leary] on ‘Shark Tank,’ always says it best, ‘If you’re going to go into a small business, you have to be willing to fire your mother,'” Herjavec said. He doesn’t know how literally you should take this advice, “but there’s an element of truthfulness to that.”
Both sides of the partnership need to agree upfront that once they join together, the business becomes their main priority, and they need to do whatever it takes for it to succeed. If either side is made too uncomfortable by the prospect of having to fire a friend or family member as a business partner, then they shouldn’t enter into the partnership.
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