Vetting your potential business partner

Finding a business partner who complements your personality, feeds your creativity and appreciates your goals is not easy. If you have found someone you think will work well with you, congratulations. However, it is still wise to proceed with caution before you sign contracts and commit to a partnership.

Whether you have known your potential partner for years or you just met at a business conference, you may not know the factors that affect the success or failure of a business. As difficult and awkward as it may be, you will want to learn as much as you can about your partnership candidate, and this may mean looking under every stone.

Asking the hard questions

The last thing you want for your business is to tie yourself to a partner who is already struggling financially or who has a history of questionable money management. You can use your status as a potential employer to run a credit check. In addition to checking the future partner's personal credit, don't forget to check the credit of any current or past businesses your partner candidate may have had. Even if he or she has stellar credit, you will want to know about the following:

  • How well do your business styles work together? A Meyers-Briggs or other personality test can compare your characters.
  • Is your partner's online presence compatible with your business' image? Look carefully at your candidate's Facebook and other social media pages for questionable posts, pictures or opinions.
  • Did others find your potential partner difficult to work with? Ask for personal references, including contacts from previous business ventures.
  • Does your potential partner have the same business mindset as you? You may discover counterproductive ideas once you begin to hammer out your partnership agreement.

The partnership agreement will address many difficult issues, which is why it is an essential part of your business plan. By resolving these issues in the earliest days of your partnership, you reduce the chances that conflicts or disagreements will escalate into disputes that involve litigation or other costly consequences. Every complete partnership agreement should include an exit strategy that clarifies the next steps for a remaining partner if one should become ill, die or decide to move on.

Before signing any agreements, you will want to be certain you and your partner have covered every possible contingency. You will also want to ensure that the language in your agreement and other business documents complies with Florida laws. Reaching out for legal advice is a smart move to make early in your business venture.

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