It's not easy to find a great business partner. Make the wrong choice, and your toxic partner will surely sink the business. That is why you can't choose an old friend simply because he's an old friend or a recently-met business leader simply because he seems to be a guru. I've worked with my current business partner Ryan Russo for over 10 years now, and we have a great working relationship.
You have to know what to look for in a partner. Over the years I've identified the three qualities that I look for before I can feel confident about putting someone at my back. You can use the same criteria to determine whether or not your potential partner is destined to be a winner, too.
You must trust one another fully, without reservation. Together, you and your business partner may well find yourselves managing millions of dollars. People will also be counting on you to make good decisions, and to lead them in the right direction.
Things can fall apart quickly if you ever start doubting one another's integrity. You literally need to be ready to trust this person with your life and the lives of all of your employees. You need to feel utterly comfortable with the idea that you could leave your business in your partner's hands for a week or a month without creating any major disasters.
2. Work Ethic
As I explained in "3 Truths No One Tells You about Running a Business," you haven't known work until you launch your own business. So you can imagine the tension if either partner feels the other isn't carrying his or her own weight. Thus, it's vital for you to choose a partner whose work ethic is very similar to yours.
You may even want to find someone who works harder than you--this will motivate you to improve your own work ethic in response!
3. Vision and Values
You and your partner must be on the same page when it comes to the reason for your company's existence--the values that will guide you and the places you want your business to go. This will build the foundation for a strong company culture and will prevent you and your partner from working at cross-purposes.
Take the time to have a conversation with your potential partner and see if you can come to some agreements. If all goes well, this conversation should be the first of many--it's important to keep checking in so that you can discuss the current state of your business and the future direction your company will take.
A final word...
Be sure to take a long look in the mirror before you start seeking a business partner. It will be hard to find the right person if you're not quite as trustworthy or diligent as you should be. Work on being the kind of partner you'd like to have. This greatly increases your chances of finding the perfect person to help you take your business to the next level.