What to Ask a Potential Business Partner – 8 Questions to Help You

We cannot do everything ourselves and this applies to business sometimes. It is impossible for one person to possess all the necessary skills that come in to the picture when one decides to set up a business. This is why sometimes we need to rope in other people as partners.

Potential business partners are all around us. They could be family or friends or likeminded people whom we can gel with. However, choosing a partner is the critical aspect of building a partnership. One has to consider many things. Here are 8 questions I think should help you figure out who is the right business partner for you.

What is your vision?

This is the first question I would ask any potential partner. Where do you see this venture going? What is your vision for it?

This is important because if the two of you don’t see it the same way you might not end up making a good team to begin with. The glue that holds any team together is “shared vision”.

What skill sets will you bring in?

Each of us has a set of skills. Ask your potential partner what his or her skill sets are and evaluate how you can use them to build a business together. For instance: if you are setting up an e-learning company having a partner who has been or is an educator might be a good idea.

This question is also necessary because once you know what his or her skill sets are you can figure out how different or similar they are to your own.

What’s your take on test marketing?

Some people like to plunge in to business without testing the waters. However, some amount of test marketing is necessary before you dive in. Asking your potential partner about his or her take on test marketing will give you an idea about whether or not both of you are on the same page in this regard.

How do we share profits?

Some people don’t believe in equal partnerships others might be investing more which is when profit sharing on a 50:50 basis might not be practical or fair. Iron out your profit sharing issues before you decide to team up.

What is your exit plan?

This might seem like a negative question but it’s important to know where your potential partner will draw a line. At what point will he or she choose not to continue with the partnership. If it’s a lady you are partnering with then marriage and moving away might impact your partnership with her. Will you be able to continue and how is what you need to figure out.

What if this goes wrong?

Nothing succeeds like success but every business idea has the potential to fail (some more, others less). Asking your potential partner about what happens if this fails or goes wrong will help you understand a lot about his or her attitude towards failure or glitches. You’ll know whether you’ll be standing alone or have someone with you through a bad patch.

How much do you plan on working?

This question is critical if your potential partner is involved in other ventures or has a full time occupation. In order to avoid feeling like it’s you who end up doing all the work a clear definition of the amount of time and effort each one of you can put in to it is important.

How do you deal with bad stuff?

Business is often about disgruntled customers, bad reviews, returns, people haggling for discounts, unbending retailers. How does your potential partner deal with crisis?

Finding a potential business partner is not simple. There are many things one wants but we cannot get it all in one person. However, a good core team can make or business while a bad one can break it. Investing some time in evaluating which partner is right for you will be worth the effort.

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