How to Pick Partners that Won’t Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth

Steve Marks

Steve Marks

Throughout your life, you have made conscious choices to affiliate with certain friends, acquaintances, and social circles. In business, the rules don’t always allow you to make these choices on the same terms. Yes, these decisions are critical for long-term success.  


The same qualities you look for in friendship are pertinent to the business world: trust, honesty, integrity, similar beliefs, and attitudes to name a few.  


When exploring potential business relationships, it’s beneficial to utilize the same set of criteria that we subconsciously use in our personal life. Consider these five critical factors when making choices about business partnerships.


Personality Types

Is this person like you or are you opposites? There are certainly benefits and drawbacks to each scenario, but it’s smart to be aware of personality characteristics and how they may work for or against you. 


For example, if you’re a quiet and reserved person, it could be advantageous to have a partner who is more outgoing. In the same scenario, let’s say you’re both also very stubborn. Weigh this attribute in the context of the bigger picture. Will the partner’s outgoing personality be more critical and worth working through the stubborn aspects? Or will butting heads with this person be a stumbling block you can’t get over?


Shared Values

Ask yourself: Do you share the same moral fiber? On a basic level, you and a prospective partner should share the same beliefs. If you have the same fundamental life philosophies, you won’t be at odds when making decisions and establishing practices that are right for your organization. 


Place of Stability

Is this prospective partner in a place of stability or is everything falling apart at the seams? If it is, you need to enter into the partnership aware of the challenges, whether they are personal or financial difficulty.


If a prospective partner checks all the boxes, but they’re experiencing some challenges with their marriage, for example. That doesn’t mean you should eliminate the possibilities, but you should have an honest conversation. It’s important to know how your prospective partner intends to resolve their issues. This is also very telling about how this person may behave in business.


Public Perception

Is this partner respectable and do they build your credibility? A partner at the very least must be perceived as trustworthy and aligned with your business mission. Ideally, a partner will be seen as someone who adds to your credibility and will help your business reach new heights. 


If someone comes to the table with a lot of baggage and isn’t well respected in the community, ask yourself if the partnership makes sense. Sometimes, it’s okay to overlook shortcomings or to ignore what amounts to community gossip. But it’s important to be aware of it just the same.


Trust Your Instincts

Never ignore your instincts. If someone checks all the boxes, but you still experience that gnawing feeling that something is wrong, reconsider. Your instincts are there for a reason. They help you navigate the world, and they are tuned to help you avoid issues. 


If your gut says no, go with your gut even if there are compelling reasons to do otherwise. You know what’s best for you and your business. 


And remember: we all make mistakes. Sometimes a partnership seems perfect, yet it still ends up failing. It’s okay to fail. Failure is often life’s greatest teacher. What’s most important is to take the steps to think critically about a partnership and examine it from multiple angles. When you do, you increase the likelihood that it will work to your advantage.

This is the true story of two Akron, Ohio entrepreneurs who introduced a tasty treat that transformed into a major enterprise. ​