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Choosing a Business Partner

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When you are running a business you are a part of a team. There are many people involved. You need a partner who supports you in every aspect of your business operation. This does not have to be a single person who shares ownership of your business.

Partners could be your hosting provider who not only provides you space but also recommends you how to manage it. For instance, you are based out in the UK and you have x number of website visitors every week. Out of these x number of visitors, over 70% are from the USA. Now it makes more sense to have your servers in the USA rather than in the UK. While you signed up with this hosting provider you were set up with a European Data Centre server. Now since you have more North American visitors it makes sense to move your Data Centre to somewhere in the USA. This speeds up your website load. A web hosting company just offers you space. A hosting partner offers you valuable insights with good advice.

Partners could be VISA, Master Card or PayPal, your payment processing partner. You need to see these companies not just as someone who helps you to accept payments. You need to maintain a good relationship with payment processors. Your accounts must be in very good standing. For example, when you are shipping any items and if the payment is made using PayPal then consider updating PayPal with the tracking number. Inside PayPal, there is a provision for this and ensure you update the tracking number immediately as possible.

PayPal if they are offering you a business debit card, then accept the card and start building a relationship. Do as much as transactions as possible to build credibility.  In most parts of the world, building trust takes more time and money.

Always start by identify strength and weakness and choose your partner who strengthens your strengths or weaknesses. Do not pick someone just like you or someone complete opposite to what you are and what you stand for. More importantly, both of you must have the same business vision.

Sometimes the path toward accomplishing this same business vision may be different. For example, you may want to sell slow and invest more in developing but your partner maybe want to sell more and invest more in marketing. During such a deadlock situation you want your partner to be approachable and rational to a conversation. If your partner is adamant and is not willing to understand your point then it is going to be hard to have a conversation.

Establishing a conflict resolution process is a must-have even before you start out. The decision-making forum must agree, understand and appreciate the below conflict resolution approach in order for this to work during a conflict.

  1. Clearly understand the disagreement in the current decision
  2. Communicate the disagreement in the current decision with multiple examples
  3. Mutually agree on a mediator for dispute resolution and weighing alternate decisions
  4. Determine a scale or weightage that can measure both current decision and alternate decisions
  5. Document the alternative decisions with scale or weightage which was previously determined
  6. Communicate the alternative approach with multiple examples
  7. Compare and contrast both current decision and alternate decisions based on your scale or weights
  8. See if the alternate decision is multilaterally agreed or disagreed
  9. If in disagreement then take a vote having important parties involved and restart the entire process after a cool-down period.

You must not be in a position to manage your partner or what he does on a daily basis.

Partner with someone who has done something that you are looking to do or at least who has tried and failed to do.

Partner must be willing to invest money. Or for now, the partner must be willing to invest time but soon he must plan to invest money too. Expect your partner to be fully vested as you. Your partner must be either equally responsible or in a percentage proportion manner. When external investors see both partners equally invested in the business that gives them more comfort. Money spent by friends and family in the business is yet another comfort factor.

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