People often ask me how you know if you’ve picked the right business partners. Of course the obvious answer is that you have no bloody idea, and even when you think you do, you can still get derailed by the most unexpected things! But there are certain questions that you should ask yourself. Then at least you have a damn good chance of not screwing it up. These are emotive questions. After all this will be a bumpy ride and chock full of emotions!
So here’s my summary of what you need to know. It’s gleaned from watching a lot of start-ups and from doing a fair few myself. These won’t be what you read in a business text book, but they work. You need to be able to answer “YES” to at least 8 out of 10 if you want to get it right.
- Will they pull an all-nighter for you if you need it? And will they do it more than once without you having to beg and plead with them?
- Do they think about what’s right for you and not just for themselves?
- Will they keep going when things get rough? Do they have the Cojones for the ride?
- Does their loved one think it’s a good idea, whether this is their husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend? Will he or she vouch for you? (And don’t say you haven’t met them or I’ll scream!)
- Do you know about their weaknesses and have you talked openly about these and how you’re going to manage them? (And I would expect them to do the same with you and your weaknesses!)
- Are you clear about why they value you and does it make sense?
- Do the people you trust – either at home or at work – think they’re a good fit with you? (you need independent verification)
- Do you like having a beer together? Do you enjoy working together and being in each other’s company? (If the answer is you can’t stand being in the same room together, then please start again.)
- Do they have different skills to you and together do you make a complimentary team?
- Do they treat people junior to them or with less experience to them, well, or are you ashamed by how they behave with business colleagues?