Outside Consultant: Finding potential business partners

  • Updated: February 9, 2014 - 2:00 PM


What are traits of a good potential business partner, particularly an entrepreneur, and how do I weed out the bad ones?

Jason Swett

Founder and CEO, Snip Salon Software www.sniphq.com


An individual’s work performance is shaped by three factors: knowledge and abilities; motivation, personality and values, and the support provided by the organization (technology, customer contacts, partners, etc.).

An individual’s knowledge and abilities emerge from education and training, licenses and work experiences. For a business partner, you should focus on traits such as: an understanding of the industry, knowing how and where to obtain capital, and having a basic understanding of accounting, finance and other business-related factors.

The factor people typically reference when describing the “goodness” of an individual deals with motivation and personality/values. Focus on the following: Does a person hold the same work and life values as yourself, expend the same energy at work as you, hold beliefs regarding customers that match yours, and have a work-family perspective that syncs with yours?

Of course, you may want to have a partner that has motivations that are important to the business but are different from yours as a way of bringing a different perspective to the business. But most of us like to work with people who are similar to us regarding how they are motivated. In the interview, ask the individual to describe the work and life situations that have motivated him/her in the past, the situations enjoyed the most and least, customer situations in which he/she performed exceptionally well, and how he/she balances work with other aspects of his/her life. Finally, follow up with references and ask the same “what motivates this person” questions as in the interview. Hiring someone as important as a business partner is a complex activity, but you can make some real headway by focusing on knowledge, abilities, motivations, personality, and values and how these complement your own.

About the author

Mick Sheppeck,

associate professor,

Opus College of Business

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