Don’t walk alone. Get into business with the right partner.

We have always heard the saying that: “Two heads are better than one”, and it is so true! In a startup, we may need the support and the ideas of another person that will help us build the projects we have in mind. In fact, the results of a research performed by the MIT Technology Review show that 72% of folks team up with others to undertake a project.

Naturally, the decision to have a partner is a hard one. You shouldn’t take on a partner just by fear of not being able to face the day-by-day; if this is so, you better get ready to walk the path by yourself. To establish a partnership is a very valuable resource for your company, measured by the results generated by the work performed.

But what should a partner have? These are the main features that you must take into account when undertaking a partner.

  •     Look for a partner that offers something you don’t have, not one that is just like you.
  •     He or she must have a passion for the business you are proposing, this will keep them happy and motivated to propose new ideas
  •    He/she must share the same vision or ideals, so work is not wasted on different goals and directions
  •     The “chemistry” between partners is very important; choose someone you trust
  •     Your partner’s reputation must be impeccable: make sure they are responsible, always on time and rich in values

Is there the perfect partner out there?

After going through the checklist to choose the ideal business partner, I’ve wonder if there is such a thing as the ideal partner. What is true, is that such relation will work as long as both assume the commitment, visualize opportunities and face the ups and downs of the company.

What is important in a relationship with a partner? To have skills that complement those of each other; that none shall impose its way or thoughts on top of the other. Support is fundamental to make decisions, and here is where you will be thankful if you choose wisely,  and that person is someone you can trust and that gets along with you.

Call it a “Business Marriage”

Apart from the advises I shared on how to pick a good partner, I must say that to create a society is equivalent to marry someone, and if you go by stats, at least half of them don’t last forever.

What should you do? There are issues that must be addressed as a couple, like expenses, ego, stress, money in general; and even to define the terms in the case you or your partner decide to drop out from the relationship, the same way it happens in a marriage. By putting all these elements on the table, you will have an idea of what it means to keep a society alive.

That is how Bill Hewlett and David Packard, heads of the famous HP brand, who were classmates at Stanford University, did it. Their abilities teamed up when they designed an audio oscillator, a device used by sound engineers that they kept developing until they got into the pocket calculator business to later up submerge into the computer business and then into commercial informatics.

The secret to the success of this pair was perseverance, they didn’t stick with the first thing they created; they went further and gradually added new products to the brand, generating a successful company that today is a reference in the world of informatics.

Currently, they are two public companies listed on the stock exchange: HP Inc. and Hewlett-Packard.  

Another example can be found in a family business, such as the one like brothers Dan and Frank Carney who, by the end of 1950, opened a pizza parlor that we know today as Pizza Hut. Their first place was so successful that they had their first franchise the same year they opened for business. At this point, they realized the business could go far and they took on expanding it throughout the American territory. Their commitment and teamwork were the flags of this duo.

One final case I would like to share is the story of how the founders of Netflix – Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings – first met because it’s the perfect example of how to choose the ideal partner.

These two met in the early 90’s, at the time they worked for different companies and the one Reed worked for, bought a startup from Marc. They had the opportunity to know each other on a professional level but at the same time, a friendship arose, not only for professional reasons but because they both lived in the same city.

Sharing working hours and eventually building up a relationship was crucial to this twosome that would later father what we know today as Netflix. In an interview, Marc Randolph mentioned that his first impression of Reed Hastings was that he was an intense and brilliant individual. Hastings also had that same feeling with Randolph and proposed him to create something new. They complemented each other; the first one had the big ideas and the second was a person that could understand these approaches and present them.

My final advice for you is to ask these questions yourself before teaming up: What do you need from this person? What is his or her financial situation? What is the level of commitment of this person in regards to your own? How would this person handle a tough situation? What is their reputation inside the circle they interact? Does this person have the disposition to put everything in writing? And mainly, do you really need a partner? When you have the answers to these questions, it will be a lot easier to follow the path of your business with the right person, aligned under the same vision and teamwork.