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What to look for in a potential business partner
8

What to look for in a potential business partner

What to look for in a potential business partner

(OP)
Hello all,

I am just wondering what tips you all have for finding the right potential business partner. There is one of my fellow coworkers that I get along with well enough, I feel like we have complementary skill sets, he has more experience than me, but not by much. His engineering work is top-notch. He has expressed a desire to start his own engineering firm, and I think he would jump at the prospect of working with me. The one big downside - he complains a lot. It seems like he is always complaining about our bosses. I don't know if it is just our bosses or if he is in fact a Debby Downer. Any suggestions? Any tips on the most essential qualities in a business partner?

Thanks,
JD

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

3
picking a partner is like picking a husband/wife.

Would you rather marry a man or woman who is a great engineer, but is a debby downer, talks smack about everyone around her, or,

a person who is a middle of the road engineer with a great personality?

remember. if the company is successful, you will both soon spend less time engineering, and more time managing people. then what qualities will be important?

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

You know what they say about friends and family going into business together. You can't change people. My opinion only.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

2
Complainers complain. And never about themselves.

So who will he complain about if you are partners? Choices are: You. The customer. Employees.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

Word of advice, before you pick a partner talk to your accountant and your lawyer. While you are still friendly, discuss who does what financially, and draw up an agreement with terms for getting out of the partnership, if it does not, work. Then you can explore the rest of the partnership. Run a credit check, you might know about his engineering work, you most likely know sqwat about his financial life.
My father attempted a business partnership some years ago, one of his wholesalers found out he was doing it. and told him if he did become a partner with that man, his open accounts would be closed.
B.E.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

further to the above,

you will likely

1. spend more time with your business partner than your wife
2. the success of your business relationship will have a more profound impact on your financial outcome than the success of your marriage
3. the stability of your relationship with your business partner will definitely affect your marriage

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

Quote (MintJulep)

So who will he complain about if you are partners? Choices are: You. The customer. Employees.
A star for such an accurate and pithy statement!

I'd be inclined to not have a partner. If it doesn't work out, then the situation is pretty complicated to egress.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

Sometimes you need complainers. They are the ones who watch the horizon for danger. They keep the cheerleaders in check. I think three works the best; the go-getter cheerleader who convinces potential clients that you can do anything, the one who loves to watch the numbers (no usually the best engineer, and the production person who is usually the one watching the place for potential dangers that no one else notices.

If you are offended by the things I say, imagine the stuff I hold back.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

JMO but if you are unable to work closely with someone based upon petty dislikes for their personality or personal habits then you probably should stick to being someone else's employee.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

(OP)
CWB1, what?? I literally said in my OP that "I get along with well enough" with this coworker. I am not sure where you got "unable to work closely with someone based upon petty dislikes for their personality". I laughed a bunch just reading your comment. Please respond and maybe I can get another good laugh in.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

Quote (JohnDoe0222)

CWB1, what?? I literally said in my OP that "I get along with well enough" with this coworker. I am not sure where you got "unable to work closely with someone based upon petty dislikes for their personality". I laughed a bunch just reading your comment. Please respond and maybe I can get another good laugh in.

You've interpreted CWB1's comment incorrectly.

The comment was not an insinuation you do not work well with this person. It is an insinuation that if a person's personality quirks (cynicism in this case) rather than their working ability cause you to question whether or not you can work effectively with them, you may not be quite ready for the struggles of managing a firm of your own.

Andrew H.
www.mototribology.com

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

(OP)
So SuperSalad, you are suggesting that CWB1 meant that because I "question[ed] whether or not [I] can work effectively with [a potential business partner]", I "should stick to being someone else's employee"? I just don't follow that logic. Considering the pros and cons of a potential business partner is not a bad thing. That's like saying, "Because you questioned whether or not you could get along with a potential spouse, you should just stick to being single". It's just an insane argument.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

First off he'd better be honest. You will need to have a high degree of trust in your partner.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

BE very careful with partners. You are essentially getting married. All their life events or problems will bleed into your company. Get a good partnership agreement that gives you some protection but agreements can be only as good as the person that signs it.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

Quote:

So SuperSalad, you are suggesting that CWB1 meant that because I "question[ed] whether or not [I] can work effectively with [a potential business partner]", I "should stick to being someone else's employee"? I just don't follow that logic. Considering the pros and cons of a potential business partner is not a bad thing.

Considering the professional and interpersonal abilities of a partner, manager, or other leader is a relevant and good thing. Considering irrelevant petty personal annoyances as you are doing is quite another, and typically is a red flag that someone isn't ready for a management role per management psych 101. The same is true of dismissing others' points as "insane" or laughable without even understanding them.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

Penn and Teller have been working with each other for like 40 years. Penn has said that he puts the longevity of their relationship not on their friendship, they have never been close friends or have much in common outside of magic, but on the mutual respect they have for each others craft and liking to work together. I think if I were in business with someone I would have to respect their abilities, be able to trust them, and want them to be professional and have like goals. I don't need someone I necessarily like on a personal level. There are a lot of people I would want if I was building a team that I wouldn't have much desire to hang around after work with but I respect greatly on a professional level. Likewise, I have friends who I wouldn't start a business with under any circumstances.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

You're going to be locked in a room with this person 8+ hrs a day, whereas you currently are only one of many potential listeners to their complaints. The fact that you are already concerned should give you pause; just think about listening to complaints all day, every day.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

I have previously been in a similar situation, but chose to go it alone.

A business partner must:

- Bring significant skills that you do not already possess
- Be easy to get along with
- Have a reputable business history

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

The concern I would have about a complainer is that might not be entrepreneurial. You need to be able to turn lemons into lemonade on a daily basis.

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

I had a contractor that was a complainer. It was hard and he didn't bring much to the table. I learned a lot, from that whole experience. I don't intend to repeat it. He complained about some of our customers, business partners, and me. I didn't care what he thought of me but those thoughts didn't need to be aired with customers, business partners, other contractors, and mutual friends. I understand everyone needs to talk to others about their burdens but don't do it over company email. I can and did check it, when I knew it was necessary. He had a private email account that he should have used for those communications. His grievances were not major but petty. I understand and would have tolerated it had he brought more to the table in other categories as well as production. He didn't produce as he could have because he lacked the work ethic. He had the talent to produce but his life had been too fragmented to really get his act together.

I look for intelligence, work ethic, integrity, skill, kindness, understanding, sense of humor, stable personality traits, financial savviness, stable family life, good people skills, gregariousness but with balance, personal hygiene, self-care, etc. They all speak to the integrity and character of the person.

Integrity in the sense I seek is how much they are whole and undivided, as a human being, as well as honesty. Both definitions of integrity matter. How complete are they as a person? Fragmented lives are not good signs. I should say, lives that are too fragmented are not good signs. Here today; gone tomorrow. OK today; terrible tomorrow. Honest today; lying tomorrow. And how they perceive reality is important and, to me, is part of their integrity. I see a lot of people today that are divorced from reality and completely ignore facts and data. No progress can be made with people like that.

Read Character Disturbance by Dr. George Simon, Ph.D. prior to making the leap. We aren't trained in human relations and that book educated me a great deal. After reading his book, develop tools to discern those with character disturbance. That will help you weed out bad actors.

Picking a partner is no trivial task, from my experience.

I thought I had good people skills but with the really difficult, obstinate people, they stink and are completely ineffective. Those I now walk away from for my own sanity. Peace in life is super important.

Running your own business is one of the most enjoyable endeavors in life, from my experience. But don't undertake it lightly. It has its challenges, too.

Pamela K. Quillin, P.E.
Quillin Engineering, LLC
NSPE-CO, Central Chapter
Dinner program: http://nspe-co.org/events.php

RE: What to look for in a potential business partner

There are a lot of complainers who do nothing but complain or think that it is somehow unique that they see that something is wrong. There are occasionally complainers who are so annoyed by things being broken that they are compelled to go fix them. Sometimes, I wonder if a lot of people who appear to be proactive and optimist are just pessimist that have learned how to grease the wheels and play the game to hopefully make something happen.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.

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