Listen to the Podcast episode.  Soundcloud.

In today’s podcast episode, I want to share the most important lesson I learned from 2016.  I learned that every entrepreneur (even me!..) needs a business partner.  Here are 5 reasons you need a business partner and 3 pitfalls to watch out for if you are choosing one.  Here is a brief summary of the podcast.

#1 – You have strengths.  When you are all by yourself, you end up spending precious time managing your weaknesses.  You should be focused on your strengths.  If you accomplish something big with your life, it will not be because you improved a weakness, it will be because you focused on a strength.  Think of anyone who has accomplished great things and it was always a result of them doing what they are best at.  You need a business partner to help you identify and focus on your strengths.

#2 – You have weaknesses.  Some weaknesses can be ignored, others will literally put you out of business.  You need a business partner that has strength in areas where you have weakness.

#3 – You need communication.  In case you haven’t figured this out yet, most of your ideas are terrible.  You have a few good ideas but if you act on all your ideas, you are going to spin your wheels and end up stuck in the mud.  You need someone with whom you can share your ideas and get feedback.

#4 – You need accountability.  If you didn’t work today, would anyone know that?  If not, you have a serious accountability problem.  You may not need a manager / employee type of accountability, but you need someone who has basic expectations about your work ethic and character.

#5 – It is a lot more fun.  Why are you in business?  You could go get a job tomorrow if you are good at sales.  It is probably because you enjoy being independent.  If so, why not find a business partner who is just as motivated and excited about business as you are?  It is so much more fun to have someone else along for the ups and downs of business.

WARNINGS:  Here are three mistakes people make when they bring on a business partner and one myth that holds people back.

#1 – Someone has to be the boss.  50/50 partnerships usually end up as “That person I used to work with.”  Someone has to be in charge.  That being said, both partners should absolutely respect the other person’s strengths and defer to them in those areas, but at the end of the meeting, someone has to make a decision.

#2 – Self-Awareness is a requirement.  NEVER partner with someone that thinks they are good at everything.  A good business partner has 100% confidence in the 2 or 3 things they do well and total humility about everything else.  If you want to have a business partner, you both must be willing to say, “I am really terrible in this area…”  If you don’t know yourself, or your business partner doesn’t know themselves, you are in for a miserable working relationship.

#3 – Brutal honesty must be expected and accepted.  Don’t partner with someone who gets personally insulted when they are confronted with obvious weaknesses and the results of those weaknesses.  If I screw up and my business partner calls me on it, I agree immediately and admit that I screwed up.

Most Successful Business Partnership ARE with a Family Member or Friend.  I have read at least 2,000 biographies with many of them being business people and I have never read about a successful business partnership that was not with a family member or friend.  The reason business partnerships end badly isn’t because they are family or friends, it is because they don’t watch out for the 3 warnings I listed above.  You must trust your business partner 100% and the truth is that a lifelong friend or family member is about the only place to find someone that you trust 100%.

Don’t go out and look for a business partner today and give them 40% of your company.  Start thinking about the people you know and see if anyone comes to mind.  If they do, ask them to help you with a side project after or before work for a few months and see how you work together.  Ask them what their weaknesses are and see if they can talk openly about these areas of their life without making excuses and also see how confident they are in their areas of strength.  After some time goes by like 6 months, hire them full time and then after another 6 months to a year, consider making them your business partner.

I hope you are as lucky as I have been to find a great business partner and I hope you have an awesome day!

James Shepherd

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