Tips for Picking a Business Partner

Thomas Grasty is Co-Founder of Stroome (http://www.stroome.com/). In this video he shares some tips for picking a business partner.

  • Find someone with a deep industry knowledge
  • Look for complimentary skill sets
  • There must be mutual respect
  • Maintains a very strong work ethic
  • Should be a friend

When you’re starting a startup, I mean, the first decision you have to make is who you’re going to go into business with. It’s also, I think, probably the most critical decision. Here are five things that I might suggest you use as guidelines.

First, you want to find a partner that has a deep industry knowledge, a passion and audacity and the tenacity. These are things that are given. You want someone that has an encyclopedic knowledge of the industry that you’re going into. I mean, that’s going to be helpful. It’s going to save you, not just if you pivot but when you pivot.

Secondly, you really want to find someone that compliments your skill set. As I said, tenacity is great but a tangible skill set is imperative. If they’re better at math than you, well then let them do the financials. If you’re better presenting, then you do the demonstrations. Put those people out front that are best in their area.

Third, you really need to respect your partner. Areas of expertise, they’re important. You need to listen to what your partner is saying about their particular area of expertise and you may not agree with them but you need to respect what they have to say. And oftentimes what happens is there’ll be a disagreement in a particular area. Well if you’ve assigned that that area is your partner’s area of expertise, then there needs to be a tiebreaker, let them be the tiebreaker. Companies are hard to run by a committee. Startups are impossible to run by a committee.

Fourth, strong—really strong work ethic. Vision is imperative but putting on the blinders is about 99% of what you’re really doing on a day-to-day basis, so you need someone that’s going to go out there and get into the trenches with you. They’re going to do hard work and the reason this is important is that you’re probably, if you’re lucky, you might just find, you know, the nugget for that next big thing, that next big idea.

And finally, and this is probably the most important. You really want to go into business with someone that’s a friend, and I’m not talking about a college roommate. I’m talking about something that you like, some one that you enjoy spending time with because when the business falters, when it hits a potholer, you have to make a U-turn and invariably you will. You cannot fall back simply on the business. You have to fall back on your friendship.

What’s the takeaway? Well I think the takeaway at the end of the day is that you really want to go into business with someone that you care about on a personal level, on a professional level that you respect and that’s going to get down and do the hard work with you on a day-to-day basis.