Did you ever hear the expression "opposites attract"? I definitely find it to be true in business (if not marriage)!

Your business partner will be one of the most important relationships you will ever have in life. Your decision should not be based solely on finding someone who thinks and acts exactly like you do, as logical as that may seem.

I don't think you can build a successful business on two people being exactly alike, with a shared skill set.

Think of a crayon box--you certainly don't want all the same colors in that box. You want different colors, and lots of them. And by that, I mean different strengths and skills. All of these qualities will create a synergy and complement each other.

Entrepreneurs who want to hire their pals and buds are always a red flag for me. Your friends may be fun, or even smart, but if they don't bring you the skills you don't have, you are going to have a very hard time getting your business to the finish line.

The best example I can give you is about the best business partner I ever had. When Esther Kaplan first walked into my office to interview for a sales job, everything about her was wrong. She was too buttoned-up, too careful. In short, she was the complete opposite of me. Nevertheless, we continued the interview, but I was already gone. I didn't think of the two of us as a fit.

Here's the thing that changed everything, though: I handed her my business card. She took the card and was about to put it into her purse. The purse happened to be tilted in my direction, so that I could see inside. And guess what I saw--partitions!

Something in that moment spoke to me. You know what I saw in that purse, besides partitions? I saw the opposite of me, but in a good way. Try finding something in my purse--good luck. There are things that have been in there for years. What Esther showed me in that purse was the very opposite of my personality--her yin to my yang.

I suddenly took a new look at Esther; I now had a different perception of her. Fast forward: Esther became my equity partner and served as president of The Corcoran Group for the next three decades.

Good thing she opened that purse.

Of all the businesses I am introduced to on Shark Tank, the most successful ones--hands down--are the ones run by two people with polar-opposite skills and talents.

The great advantage of the power of two: In most cases, the partnership involves two completely separate personalities, to go along with the opposite abilities. You would think something like that would be a recipe for disaster, but it's quite the opposite (no pun intended). And yes, somehow these opposites find each other, which says a lot about how the universe works.

Perhaps you may be a good marketing or promotions person, naturally good with public relations, networking with people, good at throwing the baloney around. Who would you want as a partner? If that were me, I would want somebody who is good with numbers, somebody who can color code everything, and raise money from banks. In other words, somebody with partitions in her purse. It's the perfect partnership, and a huge advantage.

I find that there are two kinds of people in business: expanders and containers. Expanders like to push the envelope, take risks, network like crazy (and also spend your money). Containers are more detail oriented, conservative, and like to keep on top of things. They keep you from losing money.

Both of these types of people are equally valuable. Those traits are actually natural talents. You may be one type--search the world for the other. They just have to be matched to the right needs.

In a way, think of it as dating. Before you get "married" to your business partner, allow for a long dating period to find out all that you can about them. In a marriage, you share responsibilities--taking out the trash, washing the dishes--and in a business partnership, look for the partner who can remember to pay the bills while you remember to change the batteries in the smoke alarm. You get the point.

Discover if your potential partner is more of a creative type, or a schmoozer, or good with numbers, or adept at technology. If they're great with the things you're not, that sounds like a partnership to me.

Published on: Mar 26, 2018