How to choose your partner
It’s not just in your private life that you want to be picky in choosing a partner. In business it’s a tricky decision too.
He was good looking and tall. He knew how to charm and remembered my birthday with a card and gift. We had the same impressions about people and more often than not agreed on how best to approach difficult problems. Our tastes were the same. He introduced me to his friends and lots of interesting people who he said were important to know. We enjoyed the good times together when we travelled, visiting the best hotels and restaurants in each city. Looking back now, I first realised something was wrong when we disagreed about money the first time. It was awkward and difficult. Because of our association and my desire for it to work out, I brushed off the first warning signs and told myself it was a one-off. I deluded myself in thinking we could work it out. We didn’t. It all went downhill pretty fast from there.
Sound familiar? I know what you’re thinking. We have all had bad romantic experiences. But this was not about my life partner. It was my joint venture business partner.
There is a plethora of information and tools in cyberspace to help you find a lasting soul mate. Not so for business. Choosing a business partner who shares your passion, values, ethics and drive for success is often done in a hurry and on an ad hoc basis.
One of the consistent messages learnt from the case study speakers around Australia and internationally who spoke on this subject at the recent 2012 Women in Global Business Speaker Series was that we should choose our business partners carefully; as carefully as you would choose a soul mate.
The consequences of not spending enough time doing due diligence and taking advice from a broad range of advisors, can be the difference between success and failure. Horror stories abound of contracts hastily signed resulting is preferential financial benefits flowing to the partner in less than transparent transactions; shady ethical practices or breach of contract with no legal recourse to name a few.
What is the solution? Take your time. Create a long list of all potential partners and diligently work through each one rating their suitability. Employ professional advisers who come with good references. Take references on the proposed partner from a broad range of stakeholders; law firms, banks, government, customers, agencies, distributors, other stakeholders. Once you have a short-list of 2-3, get to know them personally, visit their offices/factories at different times of day. Talk to their staff. Get a feel for the culture and morale and check it is in line with yours. Ensure the contract covers everything and has an escape clause you can live with. When you have ticked all the important boxes, you are ready for commitment.