Small Business Column: Finding a business partner

This week, Kehlan looks at how to acquire a partner for a business, and what should be considered when looking to bring new knowledge to a company.

Recently I attended the Wild Atlantic Start-Up event at IT Tralee and one of the questions asked to a panel of entrepreneurs was: ‘What do you look for in a business partner?’

So here is a look at a very interesting question for business owners.

In The Beginning

If you think you’ll need a business partner in the future, don’t wait. The realisation that you’ll need another person in the business is reason enough to stop thinking future and start thinking now.

Start looking now to find the right person who can bring advantages to your business. The panel at WASUP argued that it’s best to get one when you’re in a start-up phase.

Even if that is just a mentorship role, having another set of eyes in your business does a lot of good.


Finding the right candidate needs a measured approach. Tap your friends, relatives, and business networks to see if any suitable candidates are there to work with. They should bring something new to your business whether that’s sales, marketing, IT etc.

More than anything else, they need to share your passion for what you’re doing and believe that the product or service can grow to its potential.

It’s not The Apprentice

If ever there was a business programme which showed you how not to look for a business partner it’s The Apprentice. Finding the right business partner is not about making people jump through hoops or prove themselves. If you are serious about partnering with somebody then it’s about how you will complement each other in business. A business partnership is exactly that, with two people working together to make a business work. One is not better than the other.

How are they in business?

If they have been in business before it is definitely worth asking how those businesses faired and what role they had in them. You need to know that they can deal with tough situations and respond accordingly. It’s a two-way street, so prepare yourself to answer the same questions. Business ethics are also very important; if they work around laws rather than with them, then you can be sure at some point they’ll work around your partnership, not with it.

Yes, it’s a marriage

You wouldn’t marry somebody you don’t trust. You need to do what’s right for you and the business, so if it doesn’t feel right then delve deeper and find out why.If you still feel the same after some probing, then this partnership just wasn’t meant to be. Don’t be afraid to say no, your business future is at stake.


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