The benefits of having a business partner and how to choose the right one

- January 23, 2014 4 MIN READ

Starting a business on your own can be a daunting and scary experience. Having a business partner can be one way to share the responsibilities, decisions and financial burden.

I co-founded Workible, a social and mobile recruitment app business, with my business partner Alli Baker.  Despite a 20 year age gap, Alli and I have a great and harmonious partnership – something that is sometimes very rare to find.

Alli and I are cut from the same cloth and I think this makes a “must have” for partnerships.  Too many business relationships fall foul because of different values or workstyles and, for me, the success of a business partnership has to be founded on these two things before anything else.

Because we have had different levels of experience and different working backgrounds we are each able to bring a different, but complementary, skill set to the table and our respect for each other’s skills and knowledge is mutual.  By collaborating together, even from the outset, we were both able to bring the combined wealth of knowledge and experience to the table to help Workible be the best it could be.

If you are thinking about starting a business there are many benefits of working with a business partner for you to consider such as:

  • Generate ideas
    When running a business on your own you can often become stuck for new ideas and innovative solutions to a problem. A business partner can help you to generate new ideas by brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other. They can also help you to develop an idea further or give you a different perspective on a challenge.
  • Complement your skills
    A business partner can bring skills and experience that may be different to yours to the business. It’s a good idea to partner with someone who complements your skills, rather than someone who has exactly the same skills, as they can fill the gaps.  Each partner can then specialise in certain areas of the business to hone their skills and not spread themselves too thinly across a range of areas.
  • Split the costs
    Starting a business requires a huge investment of capital especially before investors can be brought on board.  By having a business partner you can split the costs and help to ease some of the financial burden and stress.
  • Share the responsibilities
    When starting a business there are many responsibilities and decisions to be made. As a solo entrepreneur you can’t be everywhere at once and you will encounter conflicting appointments and commitments. With a business partner you have a greater chance of at least one of you being available to attend an appointment or meeting.

How to find the perfect partner

My partnership developed from many shared car rides with my then co-consulting buddy Alli Baker.  It was on these trips, and discussions around the challenges of finding work to fit around other obligations, where we came up with the idea of Workible together.   We already knew each other as family friends and, as we’d worked together on and off for a while, we knew that we got along.  We co-developed our idea so we’re equally passionate about the business however, if you currently have a great business idea but need or want a business partner, it can often be difficult to find the right person.

Here are some things you can look out for to help you find the right person:

Understands your business idea

Your business partner needs to have a good understanding of your business idea – and, in my opinion, they need to be as passionate about it as you are. If they don’t wholeheartedly believe in it to the same level as you, then it will be difficult for them to ride out the difficult times, grow the business, sell the idea to investors and achieve success.

Shared values, vision and workstyles

In my book, this is an absolute must have.  Your values are what get reflected at the toughest of times and, in business – especially starting out – there will be some.  The last thing you need is arguments about what’s right and wrong.   Having shared values and vision will allow you to work together harmoniously to achieve the same goals.  Starting a business is a challenging and time consuming journey and you want to be in business with someone who is devoting the same time and energy as you are.  Workstyle is also extremely important.  When there’s an imbalance here – for example one person is noisy and interrupts while the other is a quiet achiever – it can often lead to challenges.  Finding a partner who works in a similar way to you is a huge benefit.  While they say that opposites attract, in this situation, it’s not the case.  It also goes without saying that you need to find someone who is hard working and passionate about achieving success.

Complementary skills

When looking for a business partner it’s a good idea to find someone who complements your skills as they can then fill the gaps in your knowledge – as perhaps you can with theirs – and provide expertise in areas of the business that might be different from yours. For example, if you are great with numbers and finances then find someone who is great with relationship building and communication.

Be prepared to work together

Having a business partner means you both have input into the business, you both have a say in decisions and you can both put your mark on the business.  If one of you makes a decision or signs a contract you are both responsible for the outcomes and consequences. This means you need to be prepared to collaborate with your business partner and share control of the business.

If you feel you don’t want to share control with another person then maybe a partnership is not the way to go.  You might be better off with staff who have the specialities you need. They can help you to work on the business but you still remain in control.

They key to a successful business partnership is simply finding the right person.  It might sound easy, but a partnership is like a marriage – you get to find out all about a person, through good times and bad.  Finding partnerships you can work well with are not easy but, when you do find the person that fits, you can share both the wins and the load – which makes business life that little bit easier and gain the support and encouragement to help your startup succeed.


About Workible

Workible is a mobile and social recruitment platform for flexible workforce industries, catering to the 6.7 million flexible workers in Australia. Workible allows job seekers to list a profile and join talent and industry pools according to their skills and experience. Employers use Workible to tap into those pools of job seekers when they need to find staff fast. For more information visit www.workible.com.au.