There are many situations in which an aspiring or established entrepreneur could benefit from a business partner. Maybe you’re just starting out and believe your business idea would perform better with someone else by your side, or perhaps you’ve grown your company as much as you can on your own and need another person at the wheel with you to reach the next level.
While it’s essential to know the qualities you’re looking for in a business partner, it’s just as important to know what to avoid. If you’re searching for your ideal business partner, keep an eye out for these nine types of people. Here’s why the experts of Young Entrepreneur Council say entrepreneurs should avoid them, as well as how these qualities will affect your relationship.
1. Someone Who Neglects Communication
Entrepreneurs should avoid partners who are not trying to become better communicators. Building anything takes years of hard work and, through it all, disagreement and conflict are unavoidable. In fact, some conflict may be desirable because one would hope your partner will challenge and push you to greater heights. Essential to resolving disagreement and conflict in a productive and healthy way that does not breed resentment and stunt the development of one’s enterprise is open, transparent and compassionate communication. This is easier said than done as communicating effectively is an art tailored to the ever-changing needs and context of the other party. As such, we can always be better communicators, and we are better off working with those seeking to improve their communication. – Akshar Bonu, The Custom Movement
2. Someone Who Cuts Corners
When looking for a business partner, an entrepreneur should really avoid anyone who has shown any tendency to cut corners. This can mean not doing due diligence with organizing a previous business and paying taxes; it can mean not treating employees or customers with respect; and it can mean displaying an overall lack of ethical guiding principles in business. As an entrepreneur, you should be able to articulate these ethical guiding principles, and your potential partner needs to be all-in on them. If they are not, any future violation of trust can be fatal to the business and your personal relationship. – Kyle Michaud, Carolina Dozer
3. Someone Who Has No Desire To Learn
Learning is the root of innovation. The most successful businesspeople are those who are always learning. If your potential business partner has no desire or no time to continue learning, you’re better off walking away. If there’s one thing we learned during the pandemic, it was that those who were innovative found solutions to staying in business in the wake of upheaval to business as usual. People who are not lifelong learners tend to be more closed-minded. This trait can undermine a business relationship—especially if one partner wants to pivot or try new things. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
4. Someone Who Is Another Version Of Yourself
An entrepreneur should avoid looking for a business partner who is too similar to themself. They should look for someone who has the skills and expertise that they lack. This will help them avoid the trap of thinking that they can do everything themself and not need any help from others. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
5. Someone Who Lacks Motivation
Choosing your business partner isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. There are many red flags to look out for, with one of the biggest being a lack of motivation. They may have the skills you’re looking for, but you’re running a risk if they lack the motivation to get things done. For example, it will be very frustrating if you’re working 12-hour days while they’re only putting in three-hour days because they can’t find the motivation to do the work. This isn’t to say you need someone who’s a workaholic, but they do need to have a sense of commitment. Otherwise, you’ll be picking up the slack. This quality will affect the relationship negatively by putting unnecessary stress on your shoulders. – Nick Venditti, StitchGolf
6. Someone Who Isn’t Aligned With Your Vision
An entrepreneur should avoid looking for a business partner who is not aligned with their vision. This will only lead to tension and conflict down the road. It’s important to find someone who shares your values and who is excited about the same things you are. Otherwise, you’ll just be dealing with more headaches and problems. Finding someone who’s on the same journey also leads to long-term partnerships and even friendships. So, if you can find a partner who shares your vision, it’s worth holding out for. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
7. Someone Who Doesn’t Ask Questions
Your business partner shouldn’t be too agreeable and non-questioning as an individual. A great partnership is built on brainstorming ideas and questioning those ideas extensively to refine them. You should avoid finding a partner who can become an echo chamber of thoughts. This will restrict your growth. Find a partner who complements your work ethic and believes in you and your vision, but who at the same time is unafraid to point out errors and take charge to fix them. This quality, while seemingly contradictory, is actually an asset that goes on to strengthen your relationship. Avoid looking for someone who is too focused on pleasing you and agreeing with everything you say. That does not just affect how you work together, but also the future of your organization. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day
8. Someone Who Is Overly Confident
From my experience, a business partner who thinks they know it all is toxic not only for the partnership, but also for the company. I believe you need to be an open-minded individual with a global vision to innovate and attract talent. You cannot keep talent at your company, especially a startup, if the work environment is not constructive and supportive. – Alexandru Stan, Tekpon
9. Someone Who Is Untrustworthy
Finding a business partner is like finding a partner in life: There are a lot of things that might initially attract you to them—personality, skill set, network—but the quality that will keep the relationship successful is trust. Without true trust, you can build nothing. If you spend half your time following up or double-checking someone else’s work to make sure you aren’t getting burned or that the ball isn’t dropped, then the math is simple—you are wasting 50% of your time and effort if the partnership does work out, and 100% of your time and effort if it doesn’t. The final summation: it’s a liability. Developing high skills is easy, but developing high character is hard. Character is the backbone of trust and, without it, you cannot have discipline, good leadership or effective collaboration. – Nic DeAngelo, We Buy Loans Fast