Partnerships are no different than our more intimate relationships, in fact, we often spend more hours with our business partners than we do our personal ones. So, why do many of us separate the two thought processes when we approach a potential project or business partner? What are some of the most basic human questions that we should be asking ourselves when we start to consider whether or not a certain person will add any value to our work?
Let’s face it, no single person’s values are exactly the same as another’s. You should ask yourself if your differences might place a wedge in shared goals for the business or project, or even future plans or goals. This person’s values will set the table for the way you will see this new confidante and be one of the most important tools for you to be able to understand and even predict how they will react under certain conditions. Those values will also be a window into that person’s reliability, and whether they do what they have promised to do. Their values will help tell you how they will act when the pressure is on.
Your next consideration might be to ask yourself, what skill set does this person have that I don’t have? Will we complement each other, or bump heads with the same skills? Some of the best collaborations come from our individuality. For example, your strength may lie in your ability to see the bigger picture, while my strength lies in being able to sweat out the details.
Another measure is, does the partner have the same level of experience as you do? Nobody wants to feel as though they are doing the bulk of the work or spending most of their time teaching rather than doing (unless that is the arrangement). Like values and skills, it’s important that experiences complement each partner.
Finally, make sure to make it legal. It’s important that partners understand that the rules of the business are written down in black and white, even though it really was your handshake that sealed the deal. The nature and terms of an agreement are often much too detailed to remember verbally over a conference table.