Answer by Ezuma Ofong, Die-hard entrepreneur, on Quora

Here are warnings that come to mind based on my experiences. Gratefully I followed my intuition and avoided getting too tangled with some bad actors. Sometimes it's hard not to settle--but don't.

Here we go.

  1. They abuse people close to them. Meaning they tear people down. They make people worse-off. They emotionally and/or physically assault people close enough to them. If they don't get their way at some juncture, this drive to beat people into submission will transfer into your partnership.
  2. They want more power than responsibility. Meaning they come out wanting to be CEO or some other ego-inflating position for superficial reasons only. Not because they're especially qualified, not because they bring some expansive value, not because they even know anything substantial about the business you're into or the work itself yet, but because they crave power.
  3. They're too dependent on you to deliver their success. Meaning they look at you and/or your project like the ultimate deliverer of the riches they've always fantasized about. The balance of value here is usually out of whack. They know this and they're afraid you don't need them to be successful, so they try to manipulate and limit you to keep a piece of the action.
  4. They do things that compromise your credibility. Meaning they don't know how to shut up and lay low until it's in everybody's best interest to move. They run out with a trumpet before you're ready. They take it upon themselves to present concepts they don't understand. They arrange meetings that waste people's time. They go rogue and run ahead with stuff that makes you look like fumbling amateurs.
  5. There's a trail of rubble and burned bridges behind them. Meaning their professional history is littered with all kinds of conflict and misdeeds and legal threats and smoldering piles of bodies. It's one thing to disagree or to dissolve understandings. Anyone with ambition will have some conflicts to work through. But it's another thing entirely if, and usually by their own casual admission, a person is constantly at war with previous employers, colleagues, partners, friends and anyone else they've had to cooperate with, and constantly threatening to sue or get even, etc. Believe me, it's not the other people.

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Published on: Aug 11, 2015