3 Questions to Ask Before Partnering with Someone for Your Startup

Feature Photo - Two men Meeting about business

Joseph James is Business Resiliency Counselor for the Small Business and Technology Development Center and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for SEEN. Below are his thoughts on adding a partner to your startup.

Early-stage entrepreneurs should be selective about who they invite to join their business, especially when selecting business partners and others who may eventually help lead and make decisions for the business. When there are only a few people in the business, bad choices can have a significant impact on your day-to-day experience of working on the business. They also contribute significantly to the growth and success of the business and its long-term culture.

Here are three questions worth considering when deciding if you should partner with someone or invite them to play a significant role in your start up:

  1. What do they offer that adds value to the business? What are the skills and expertise you do not possess? Do they have access to relationships or other important resources? You should have good, practical reasons for why you would ask someone to join you.
  2. How much do they agree with your vision and mission for the business? For these purposes, you can think of this as the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your startup. Different ideas and approaches can be helpful, but there should be a general agreement on what you are trying to create and build.
  3. To what extent do you have shared values related to the business? Think of this as the ‘how’ of accomplishing the mission and vision. Again, 100% overlap is not necessary but significant differences including conflicting values can create problems. For example, do you share the same perspective on how to treat people (customers and employees)? What about obeying the law?

This list is certainly not exhaustive. There are other questions specific to your business that should be explored, however, asking these three questions about anyone you invite to help build your business will pay off in the long run.