What do I need from a business partner?
You should look for a business partner who brings something different to the table than you do. If you're creative, maybe you need a more detail-oriented partner. If you have money to invest in the business, you may want to look for a partner with access to a market, or with great connections. Or if you're shy, you might need a good "people person" to balance the equation.
What is your potential partner's financial situation?
It is important to have an understanding of someone's financial status and commitments before getting into a venture together.
"It is tough to ask what they are currently spending on a house or in payments to an ex-spouse, but someone's prior financial commitments shape the decisions they will make in the short term," said Gregory Kratofil, an attorney and shareholder with the law firm Polsinelli Shughart in Kansas City, Mo., who specializes in small-business interests. "If he has large outstanding obligations, but says he can get by on $35,000 salary, it is a red flag.
What are the potential partner's expectations on the time involved?
Partners don't have to spend the same amount of time, but it is important that they are on the same page as to each other's expected time commitments. How many hours a day does your partner expect to put into the venture, and do his expectations meet yours?
"It is equally important to level set your partner's expectations on your time commitments," Kratofil said. "The age old adage that it's better to under-promise and over-deliver applies here."
Is your potential partner's commitment to the business as strong as yours?
"I don't care if it's a coffee house or a design firm, the business partner's commitment has to equal yours," said Bob Phibbs, consultant and CEO of The Retail Doctor, a site that provides information to small- and medium-sized businesses.
A partnership -- especially one between friends -- can start off with fun and excitement, but within a short time, the slog of every day catches up with you. If they're not as committed to the business as you, they may lose their enthusiasm and may actually be damaging the brand every time you open your doors.