Though many entrepreneurs can successfully start a small business alone, maintaining the company may require other parties and incur additional expertise. A business partner may bring the skills necessary to sustain and even expand your ongoing venture. If you decide to go this route, selecting the right candidate will be critical to your continued success. Here are some factors you should consider when looking for a partner:

What are your requirements?

It is important to ask for exactly what you need from a partnership. You should ideally work with someone who possesses a unique skill set that allows them to bring something to your business that it is currently missing. Among the key questions, such as:

  • Can you efficiently manage all accounting aspects of your business?
  • How are your networking skills?
  • What legal technicalities, if any, keep getting in your way?
  • Does your business need a new website along with proper marketing?

These types of questions will help you decide whether or not you need a business partner, as well as what type of expertise your team is currently lacking.

What are your expectations?

It is important to think about the degree to which you would like your small business partner to be involved in various areas of the business. If you are in need of an additional person, you likely have certain expectations for this role. Unfortunately, some aspiring partners will be thrilled by your idea and vision, but will not have the necessary time to fully commit. As a result, it is crucial that you two are on the same page about the effort needed to grow your business.

Ask potential candidates how many hours and days per week they can put into the business, while ensuring that their schedule remains predictable and manageable. This will help you ensure that you maintain your reputation and operational standards over time.

Can your candidate handle tough situations?

Running a business alone is not easy. If you feel overwhelmed by the job's demanding requirements, then a business partner may be a necessity. With that said, this person must have the necessary drive to stand up to any and all unforeseen situations.

Ask your candidates a series of questions tailored to their professional obligations, keeping potential obstacles in mind. These may include:

  • Can you tell me about a professional situation where you encountered an obstacle? How did you deal with it?
  • What has been your biggest professional obstacle so far?
  • Have you ever coached a co-worker through dealing with a professional obstacle? What did you say? What did you learn from the experience?

In addition, look into their previous ventures and evaluate their performance under tough situations. While you should not expect perfection, grading the severity of any past circumstance will ultimately help you reach a reasonable conclusion.

Gauge your work/life balance

Do you need additional assistance to help sustain successful work/life balance? As you search for a partner, be sure that you find someone who has goals that will support your own. If you're looking at scaling back, you want someone who has the initiative and freedom to dive in and pick up some of the extra work that will need to be done. If you're looking for someone to help you find ways to make the environment more conducive to work/life balance, seek out a partner who values their personal time and has constructive ideas on improving productivity and streamlining operations so that work gets done faster and more effectively, resulting in better balance for all.

Is your partner the real deal?

Even if a business partner has all of the right qualities, he or she may end up under-delivering due to a lack of prominence or good standing. A candidate could have various financial connections, but these may be casual and therefore do not qualify for potential opportunities. Likewise, his or her marketing network may not necessarily align with your company's needs due to his or her primary audience or your budget. Speak with past employers, employees, and other partners with whom the candidate may have worked to get more information.

Finding a small business partner requires a keen eye. If you are unable to find the right partner immediately, it is typically better to work alone, even if your company's growth is not advancing at the desired rate.


For more small business tips, check out The UPS Store Small Business Blog.