“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”-Helen Keller

The journey of entrepreneurship is not always a smooth one. It could be like a roller-coaster ride, full of uncertainties and at the same time exciting. The journey becomes even more exciting and fulfilling when you get the right partners. That is when you achieve extraordinary results, and the journey becomes fun.

Getting the right partner for your start-up venture is not an easy task, and you need to be tenacious, patient, flexible, and prudent. I have gone through these experiences, and my struggle to find the right partner for business was a long one.

This is so crucial because it can make or break start-up ideas. The success of any start-up will hinge upon how the partners create bonding and complement each other during the initial phases. When inventors bet their money on a start-up, they assess how resilient and coherent would be the team behind the ideas. Great ideas alone do not ensure great enterprises; people’s ability to execute ideas would be pivotal for success. Investors are smart people to understand that.

But, it is not only crucial from the fundraising point of view. This is important at a fundamental level; this will decide whether the venture will be viable or not and will the promoters be able to pull it through together or not.

How do you select great partners?

How do you create a great team? Here are a few guidelines:

1. Select someone who shares the similar dreams

Partners must have shared dreams; they must share similar excitement and commitment to the ideas. If some partners are gung-ho about the ideas and generate a lot of energy around them, the others are lackadaisical; then there would be constant dissonance. All partners must own up to the ideas and be excited about them.

2. Value-systems alignment:

The partners must share similar values regarding the business. The culture of the start-up would emanate from the shared value systems of the partners. Significant time will be wasted ironing out the differences if conflicting values exist. If the differences are irreconcilable, they may even take to a breaking point. I am sure nobody would like to have a business partner who is not trustworthy, open, flexible, and transparent.

3. Commitment Level:

If multiple partners have equal stakes, the commitment level must be uniform. Suppose one or two partners are engaged full-time whereas the other partners cannot commit 100%, there could be problems again. It will impact the performance and also may create a rift among partners.

4. Complementary Skills:

During the initial phase, when a start-up is not in a position to hire many talents, it always helps if the promoters bring complementary skills. If someone is good at product development and another at marketing and sales, that makes a formidable team. Another advantage of having complementary skills among partners is that they can divide the workload and avoid duplication of efforts, thus effectively utilizing the promoter’s bandwidth and avoiding possible conflicts.

5. Likeability Vs. Competence

Birds with the same feather flock together. We feel comfortable hanging around people we like and trying to avoid people we do not like. It is not always true that a likable person will be efficient. When you are in a business venture, you need people who can deliver results. As long as the value systems match, even if the nature and style of another person are different, things may work out beautifully. For example, if you are an outgoing, aggressive person and your partner is an introverted and cautious person,  that may bring a balance and a sense of proportion to the approaches. There is a strong belief that diversity brings different perspectives, even though you may have to spend a little more time building up consensus. However, if you encounter somebody you cannot withstand, you may decide not to onboard him even if he is supremely efficient. One must be careful to strike a balance.

Young entrepreneurs who are excited with the ideas and raring to go may often overlook these aspects of business selecting partners or building teams. Ideas do not work themselves; people make them work. The team behind the idea must work as one team, chasing the same goals. Creating the rule of engagement and boundaries would smoothen out many interpersonal issues like ego, power struggles, etc. Selecting the right partner is the first right thing in building a winning team and successful enterprise.

Author: Mukul K. Das