When you’re running a business, it can be a risky proposition to bring a partner onboard. After all, you never fully know what someone will do, and you’ll be trusting your partner with the business you built yourself. They need to be exemplary, they need to be on the same page and they need to be a worthwhile addition to your business. The success of a partnership can make or break a business, after all, so whoever you choose should be carefully vetted.

  1. You should know your partner well

Your partner will make decisions with you about how to talk to clients, how to pitch and who to network with. They’re probably going to have their hands in some aspect of the day to day operations of the company, which means it’s critical that you know what to expect from them as a businessperson. Don’t let your partner surprise you because of your lack of due diligence.

Make sure to take the time to get to know your partner, their management style, their vision for the company and most importantly, their personality. If you two don’t mesh well or if you haven’t taken the time to find out how your potential partner responds under pressure, how they prioritize their schedule, or what their attitude is towards spending money, you may encounter an unpleasant surprise that can split the partnership and business down the line.

  1. Your partner should have skills you don’t have

The most critical aspect of a partnership is compatibility, and that means that your partner must bring something to the table that you can’t offer. If you don’t think your partner is smart, savvy or skilled in something you aren’t, why add them to the business at all? If you’re better at day to day operations but want someone who can negotiate with other businesses, look for a partner with strong negotiation skills. If you have a good command of getting funding but you need connections and deals to grow your business, look for someone who’s both socially savvy and well-connected. Make sure your partner can provide something for the business that it wouldn’t have without them. There’s no reason to have a partner otherwise.

  1. Make sure your contract is thorough

One of the quickest ways to have a partnership go wrong is unclear expectations from either party about how it should proceed. The easiest way to avoid this is to take the time to make sure you construct a thorough contract that leaves both parties clear about the nature of the partnership, who has decision making powers, who has how much ownership and an exit strategy for either party should one need the best ENT doctor.

If you don’t get something down in writing, you risk encountering a scenario in which differing expectations could hurt your business. Make sure you both go over the contract together, reviewing every aspect and asking questions about anything you feel the contract might have missed before signing it.

  1. You must have the same values and goals

Nothing will derail a business faster than two partners with opposing goals and visions both trying to make them happen. Make sure you talk to your potential partner about how you see your business growing, where you want to see it in six months and a year, and what your short and long term plans are for growing it.

Make sure you have matching work ethics, as well. It will be a difficult partnership if one partner keen on hard work and getting a task done consistently resents a partner who prioritizes family time and not rushing a project too quickly, or if one partner has a customer-first ideology and the other believes owning a business means you don’t have to defer to customers consistently. Talk about these sorts of values before making a commitment, as they can make or break a partnership.

  1. Don’t commit to someone too quickly

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is committing to someone because you’ve already talked to them extensively about a partnership. After a long talk or trial period, you may feel pressured to accept someone as a partner simply because they’ve been vetted for so long. But if you have any doubts about your compatibility, it would be wiser to walk away or take more time. Don’t let yourself be pressured into a decision, especially on acquiring a partner. Such a  decision made under pressure could have severely negative effects for your business later on.

Your partner is going to have a significant amount of control over your business. Make sure you take the time to evaluate a potential relationship, including your shared values, expectations and responsibilities, and think through how a potential partner can improve your business before committing to a partnership.

Author's Bio: 

Jeremiah Owyang is an entrepreneur and online social media expert.