Life and relationships go hand in hand. But when it comes to building a business with someone, it’s best to take your time finding the right partner.

A partnership is like a marriage, and if you want to prevent a messy divorce, it’s imperative that you don’t settle for the first person who comes your way. If you truly want your business to thrive, then finding the right business partner is key.

Having built a company, The Blue Sky Thinking Group, that is now valued at over $100 million, with my business partner Danielle Suchley, I know just how important it is to work with someone that you trust completely.

I’ve had my fair share of business partners throughout my career and if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that you need to know them really well. It’s not good enough for them to tell you about the things that they’ve achieved, you need proof of this. You also need to spend time with them in order to ascertain who they really are, especially in trying circumstances. A person will obviously react differently in a stress-free environment, compared to when the pressure is on.

Just like the people who I hire, I always have an exact avatar of who I want my business partners to be. For me, the perfect business partner is someone who complements my skills and also has skills that I don’t have. I’ve worked with my current business partner, Danielle, for over 12 years now, and we both believe in the same goal. We might think about business differently, but at the end of the day we believe in the same outcome and because of this, we have really valuable communication.

The perfect business partner is someone who you can trust 100%. If I didn’t trust Danielle and she didn’t trust me completely, then our business relationship just wouldn’t work. I would never get into business with someone who I didn’t know. I take a long time getting to know a person inside and out and I make a point of being aware of their track record before committing to anything. In addition to these things, it’s also important to be able to have fun together. Business is tough sometimes, so if you can have fun, then it will make the hard times easier to get through.

Top tips: How to find the best business partner

  1. Make sure that you’ve worked together before: If you’ve worked together before, even if it was 10 years ago in different roles, you would know how the person responds in times of stress and pressure. You would have also spent a lot of time with them and it’s always a good idea to work with someone who you know you want to be around.
  2. Share the same values: Finding someone who you can connect with and who has the same values as you will do wonders for a business relationship. You can have different views on certain topics —that’s life – but if you can agree on the things that are truly important, such as trust, honesty, and work ethic, then you’ll be okay.
  3. Have the same goal: Just as it’s imperative to have someone who has the same values as you, it’s important to be on the same page when it comes to goals for the business. This is usually what leads to a parting of ways in terms of business partnerships – when partners can’t agree on what it is that they ultimately want for the company. Differing views won’t help here. You need to share the same goal.
  4. Have strengths that complement one another: Whatever you lack, your business partner should make up for. I often see two people going into business together where one has the idea, and the other person has the funds, but it needs to be more than this. Perhaps you’re great at strategy and they’re great at implementation. Or perhaps you’re good with relationship building and they’re good with keeping the businesses financials on track. Make sure that you both know what you’re good at and what you’re not so that roles and responsibilities will be clearly defined.
  5. Share the risk: Find someone willing to take on the same risk as you. A person who is completely invested is more likely to give more of themselves in terms of time, energy, and resources, and is less likely to leave you hanging or make you do all the work.