Picture of two people with business suit sleeves shaking hands. Interlocking silver gears are in the background. Title graphic for Business Partner Selection, Dr. Tricia Groff

Business Partner Selection for High Achievers

High Achievers Personality Characteristics that Impact Partnerships

♦  High Achievers tend to think the best of people instead of doing extra due diligence.

♦  High Achievers, who are entrepreneurs, will focus on making a partnership work instead of assessing if there should be one.

♦  High Achievers who move quickly will prioritize speed and first-to-market type thinking (which is good), but at the cost of due diligence.

♦  High Achievers who are humble tend to assume that others have the same skillsets as they do. This characteristic sounds nice but sets them up for later frustration and resentment.

♦  High Achievers with intuitive business intelligence may ignore red flags in the interest of “getting along” with a potential business partner.

The Partnership is as Important as the Business

How many times do businesses fail because the business concept itself was a bad idea? Sometimes, yes. In the case of business partnerships, the relationship between the business partners drives the outcome. To date, I have directly or indirectly witnessed:

–A promising and growing business folded because of distrust that grew about the character of one of the partners

–Stagnation and disillusionment after  a partner’s dishonesty jeopardized the viability of the business

–Mammoth ego wars and differences in vision that rippled down through businesses

–Good relationships were strained because of differences in perceptions of equity and fairness that unfolded as the business grew

–Business partners are “stranded” when a partner encounters a personal tragedy that renders them unable to function as a partner

Business Partnerships, Dissolutions, and Transfers of Ownership Can Impact Your Family

Attorney Jake Sherrard gets credit for this section. He took me through operating agreements and showed the difference between contractual integrity and agreements that protect both the partners and their families. Essentially, business agreements can fulfill the necessary legal requirements without adequately addressing variables that may unfold in the business.

–For example, if a partner dies, who gets his/her share of the business, and what will their role be?

–Many people do 50/50 partnerships, but who breaks the tie in material decisions for the business?

–Are there troubled family members who could pose a risk to the health of the business?

Even in ‘business as usual” circumstances, the health of the partnership will impact each partner’s home life and relationships. The person you were excited about working with becomes your work spouse, and many parallels exist between both personal and business marriages.


Tips to Assess the Viability of a Partnership

1. If a significant other or friend who knows you well has concerns about your potential partner, take them seriously. They know you well and may see beyond the upsides of the opportunity lying in front of you.

2. Talk with the potential business partner about your past professional relationships that went well and those that didn’t. For each of you, look at the common themes of both work styles and personalities that impacted your happiness.

3. Ask yourself if you have even the slightest pause in your assessment of the other person’s character. Don’t excuse it, please don’t dismiss it, and don’t justify it. Money, ego, and power will magnify cracks.

4. Discuss how you view business integrating with the rest of your life. If one partner believes that being “all in” is 24/7 availability and high financial risk, while another wants a traditional schedule and a spreadsheet for decision-making, the stress of those differences will threaten the sustainability of the business.