Having a great business plan and strong vision is crucial in ensuring startup success. However, picking the right people to make that vision a reality is just as important. Many businesses to date have failed because the founders don’t get along, as their relationship goes down under, they bring their company with them. In order to avoid this, its important to understand the types of people you’d want to partner up with, and the ones who don’t. Here are five people that you should avoid partnering up with like the plague.
The great talker that doesn’t walk
You see these people everywhere. I personally come across them constantly in the entertainment and startup scene. Watch out for people who constantly tell you the great things they can do for you, but never do a SINGLE thing to prove their worth. One thing I always do before I consider partnering with someone is simply wait and see what they do after I pitch them my idea. If I don’t see anything from them in two weeks, thats a clear indication to me of their level of interest in a partnership. NEVER PARTNER UP WITH SOMEONE UNTIL THEY PROVE THAT THEY CAN DELIVER. Even if its something minor like saying they will send you an email, small actions say a lot about a person’s character.
You need a partner who is believes in the brand 100% and won’t focus elsewhere. Having someone not fully committed can potentially lead to disagreements, putting your company at risk for failure. Take the founding of Facebook for example, the reasons for the fallout between Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin’s was reportedly based on Saverin’s lack of commitment. According to Business Insider:
“Saverin was reportedly a lousy, absent co-founder who gallivanted around New York while Facebook was taking off in Silicon Valley. These disagreements led Zuckerberg to reduce Saverin’s shares in Facebook.”
If you saw The Social Network, this drama led to a major lawsuit between the two founders. No matter who won in the end, everyone can agree that going through lawsuits is not a fun process. With that being said, choose someone who puts growing the company at his/her top priority and won’t spread themselves too thin.
Having self-confidence is great, but partnering with someone who puts self-promotion above building the company could be detrimental to your startup’s growth.
Take Apple Founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs for example, the reason their partnership worked so well was because both entrepreneurs knew their roles from day one. In an interview with the Seattle Times, Wozniak noted that he never wanted to build a company, he just wanted to create great computers.
“I was just doing something I was very good at, and the thing that I was good at turned out to be the thing that was going to change the world. That wasn’t my plan. I didn’t think, ‘I’m going to change the world.’ No, I’m just going to build the best machines I can build that I would want to use in my own life.
Steve was much more further-thinking. When I designed good things, sometimes he’d say, ‘We can sell this.’ And we did. He was thinking about how you build a company, maybe even then he was thinking, ‘How do you change the world?’ He spoke like that.”
This partnership was successful because they both had their specific set of passions, which complemented each other and pushed the company towards success. This was pivotal in them creating what is one of the most valuable companies today.
While it’s inevitable that one person will be in the spotlight as the company grows, every partner needs to check their ego at the door and know that regardless of semantics, their company cannot grow long-term without each other.
Look, you guys got into this partnership for a reason. Whether it’s to change the world or create a thriving business, you must stick with going towards that goal. However, in order to achieve that goal, you guys have to work together and fight for every inch to succeed. This requires founders of a startup to constantly be communicating. If you have a partner that talks behind peoples backs and isn’t upfront about their issues, then what’s the point of working together to build something?
Please, for the love of God don’t consider being business partners with your boyfriend or girlfriend. No matter what you believe, personal feelings and issues will get in the way of business. I’ve seen companies never get off the ground because of this, even worse, I’ve seen companies do really well and even become profitable, only to come crashing down when the founders have a bad breakup. On top of that, research indicates that divorce rates for BUSINESS partnerships are already as high as 80%. What do you think will happen if you add personal relationships into the mix? Just don’t do it. Seriously.