Finding Great Business Partners

While I would describe myself as financially secure and profitable I still am a bit wet behind the ears on business partnerships. These are some of the general attributes I found in partners in good business partnerships. I think I have had about a half dozen great business partners so far. Here are brief descriptions on some of the things that made some of them great.

Hey Asshole! If a person is willing to tell you that you are a piece of shit or that you are screwing up it is much easier to trust them and their motives than the average person email spamming you with the Joint Venture opportunity of your lifetime. If they are willing to be blunt and honest with you then you have to respect that. I found at least 4 great business partners this way.

Questions Authority: When people are willing to ask but why they not only show the courage to tell you when you are full of crap (and thus help you make better ideas) but they also are going to be more likely to find other ideas that help you out-market the competition or find holes in relevancy algorithms to outmaneuver the search engines. Where conventional wisdom is wrong great profit potential exists.

Most authority systems are hypocritical garbage designed to increase the wealth or power of the authority figures or rule makers. If you are willing to look at them from that perspective it is much easier to find potentially profitable opportunities and algorithmic holes.

Believes in You: One of my friends quit his job and is working full time building out a website for me. Behind his computer on the wall he actually wrote the word FOCUS in big black marker. After about a month of consistant growth yesterday was the first day that the website paid over 100% of his living costs (including his somewhat expensive home mortgage).

Focuses on Automation: It depends on your business models, but if people think of the scalability or ease of replication of a business model at launch that is going to typically lead to a much higher profit yield than a person who starts creating before they think about profits or automation.

Has Different Sources: Their sources may be their own experiences or channels that are not typically read by most people in your market, but generally if people can pull value from sources that are generally overlooked in your industry that is a good sign for the value they can create.

It is hard to make money doing the exact same thing everyone else is doing.

History of Execution:
One of my hyper-successful friends and business partners recently said

I do think it is all about execution though and we will not be out executed.

Having too much confidence can be a bad thing, but if you have partners that have shown the ability to follow through it is a great sign to hear them that confident.

Excitement: A person who feels they just deserve to be successful may not add much value to whatever you are doing. A person who is hard working and excited may not realize their value an / or can be trained to produce valuable work, and will be much more malleable than someone who is already stuck in their ways.

What attributes do you look for in a business partner?

Published: June 13, 2006 by Aaron Wall in marketing


June 21, 2006 - 4:57am

What site does your friend run that pays his mortgage?

June 21, 2006 - 4:59am

It would be pretty dumb for me to make a market arbitrarily hyper competitive, wouldn't it? I fail to see how it would help my friend.

June 24, 2006 - 8:46am

I tend to value:
- honesty,
- ability to laugh at oneself,
- a fertile mind,
- an understanding that a "cool idea" is only a good business idea if the effort required is within reason, and the market potential is significant.

It is also incredibly important for partners to be flexible, thoughtful, forgiving at times, and understand that the best partnerships are those where there are overlapping skills and philosophies, in addition to different sets of talents.

Finally, the importance of liking each other is overlooked. That IMHO is far more important that being LIKE each other.

My 2 cents. :)

July 6, 2006 - 5:17pm

I get your point, just as I do with all of them :P

June 13, 2006 - 11:31am

I'll add -

Passion for Learning: Especially for Internet ventures, a passion for learning is important. There are a number of people that are eventually worn down by the fact that half our industry flips upside-down every couple of years. Others are reinvigorated by the constant change.

But there are limits. At the opposite end of the spectrum, which I'll call "Obsession with Learning" - the danger here is that the act of learning can become detached from the doing. Learning is not the end goal in an enterprise, and some people forget this.

There is a time to evaluate airspeeds, altitude and wind patterns, and there is a time to just grab the parachute and jump. It's important to be able to be comfortable in both learning and doing.

June 13, 2006 - 11:42am

Some sharp comments recently Mark. Thanks for posting them.

I have long screwed up the balance between learning and doing. I totally struggle with that one...that obsession group I am frequently found in.

June 13, 2006 - 3:49pm

Demanding of Themself & Others: Again, like Mark's comment, there's a fine balance between being demanding and being an asshole (in the bad way). i think that as long as someone is hardworking, not willing to rest on their laurels, and demanding peak performance & hard work out of themselves then you can't go wrong. You can't teach work ethic.

June 13, 2006 - 8:21pm

One thing I look for is someone who can present a new twist in my routine of research. I use the same tools and avenues over and over again. Not that they're bad necessarily, but it's nice to see someone show me a new method of compiling info or some different source for data. Preferably my clients; that shows me they did some homework before coming to me and our weird SEO language won't be total greek to them.

By the way; that is the largest damn quotation mark I have ever seen.

June 14, 2006 - 12:17am

I think hard work and excitement is they key, learning comes easy if you have both. If a person is just ideas and excitement but cannot put the idea to work (hard work) ii is very frustrating... for both partners. And if you are just a hard worker you will achieve some things but you will get stuck sooner or later because of your lack of excitement.

June 14, 2006 - 3:24am

Attributes that i look for in a Business Partner.

- The Person knows the business well and has a realistic plan or has executed that plan.
- Can listen and someone i can look for at times of Advice and Decision.
- Knows how to make deal's and close them, and can get excited after closing the deal.

thinking about other points ....


June 14, 2006 - 11:06pm

I would pick passion. A passionate, brutally honest partner will take you far.

I read this once and it stuck with me:

"One person with passion is better than 40 people who are merely interested."

June 15, 2006 - 2:14am

Aaron -- thanks! On learning vs. doing -- its a constant battle with me as well. One thing that's helped in this regard for me is to "schedule" both learning and doing activities in advance... Now, if I could only keep on-schedule ;-)

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