After my latest introduction post, it’s time to dive in to the first blog post. Choosing your business partners would probably be the most significant decision on your life for the following months, and hopefully, years. Let’s jump on to the obvious stuff that must be mentioned – Your business partners should be individuals who you trust, who completes you professionally, who are true stars in their fields and are fun to hang out with. But all of these are not interesting. In this post, I would like to discuss qualities that I only found out about over the years, and notice how lacking them or having them within our business partnerships skill set really had a big impact on our successes and failures. The truth is, that the process of finding a business partner is much more spontaneous the conceptual, but I hope that this post will help you evaluate the potential of your spontaneous business partnership forming process. The post consists of 8 business partnership skills that I found to be crucial within a business partnership. This is a very important post which I wish I was exposed to when I started in business – Read it all, and don’t become unmotivated if you find out you lack most of the skills and qualities I will mention as they can be learned or be acquired by partner with the right individuals. These are 8 business partnership skills that are crucial for success:
- “All In” mentality
Building a business requires you and your partners to allocate almost all of your time in order to pursue success. If your business partners are married with children, they need to be aware that they are going to pay a price and prioritize the business. It’s not that building a business requires 18 hours working days, but it means that whenever an urgent matter arise, and those are very common in the beginning, everyone throw away whatever they are doing, and get on board in order to fix the problem or maximize the opportunity. No one goes home and no one counts who worked more hours today, you just doing everything you can do for the sake of the business. The only exception is if one of the partners died, other than that, everyone on board.
The reason that this “All in” mentality is important, is because somewhere across the road, or across the ocean, some individuals are trying to destroy you and your business by building a better service or product. Unlike the startup blogs you guys are reading, and what they’ve told you on the recent fuck up nights’ meetup you attend, business is not a place for losers, they are just not welcome.
I can say that me and my partners are hanging out with our spouses and children much more than my employees’ friends. But all of us are 100% available for the business – Nights, weekends, Holidays, we will be there no matter what. The main point I want to share is that being All In is not about working al day long, it is about being available for the business all the time, and when the business needs you, it is even more important than your family (Don’t worry, eventually they will enjoy the fruits of your weird priorities)
This one I like. Money is made only with people who really wants to make it. An example I like is the fact that me and my partners were arguing a lot in the early days of the business, over the equity shares of each partner. On your average Startup blog, you will read that this is a red flag and that you should run away from a partnership that begins that way. They will tell you that a startup is a mutual adventure, and it doesn’t matter if once a liquidity event occurs each partner will make $10M or $12M. But in our case, things were difference. One of the partners demanded higher equity stake, as he was more experienced and had more connections than the rest of us. This partner, eventually, got what he wanted. I don’t have any other way to describe him, other than a Pig. He is a greedy bastard that will negotiate till the other side collapses, up-sells ruthlessly and won’t let any big corporation treat us like a small company. He is personally signed on ~5M deals he bought to the company all by his own. This Pig is responsible for a big portion of my personal wealth. Don’t fear greediness, you need it in your business, and as long that the greedy partner can be trusted, it might be a winner.
Here’s an interesting view on greed by Oxford researcher.
Number 3 in our 8 business partnership skills list is aggressiveness. Throughout my life, I used to believe that the “good guys finish first”. I was captured by inspirational stories of nerdish entrepreneurs who wanted to save the children of Africa and by accident made millions. Although I always appreciated and valued good sales pitches and assertive individuals, I was amazed to learn just how aggressive people can be when it comes to money. In my opinion, each one of the partners must have the ability to not being nice. You will find out that in most business interaction you will have the option to negotiate, and by doing so, you will improve your business bottom line. If on of the partners is a total bad-ass who is fearful and aggressive, and you will know how to integrate him within your culture, you will have a big advantage.
Unlike most of the other skills and qualities I’ve discussed so far, this one is almost impossible to acquire. Someone within the team must be Charismatic, it doesn’t work without it. This individual must excite investors, employees, suppliers and clients. If this individual is the company’s CEO, it’s a winner. Form my experience with business partnerships, it is not enough for a person to be charismatic – He needs a welcoming ground which will enable and hold this quality. I’ve seen the most charismatic individuals, that were completely shut down by their business partners. It normally happens in rooms with multiple dominance individuals who have their ego crushed by another partner. This can destroy that magic quality we call charisma. Good teams know how to maintain this quality and nurture it within the partnership. If you’re charismatic, as well as one of your partners, make sure you’re not disabling each other and b that, hurting the company and the partnership. In case there isn’t a partner who’s charismatic enough, consider look for a partner that is.
This should go without saying, but in a generation where every undergraduate srudent thinks he is Steve Jobs, this must be mentioned. You need to build the best team out there in whatever field you operate in. Don’t just look or be someone good in your area, the team needs the best people in your field, otherwise there’s a good chance you will get crushed by your competitors. There is no point in opening a venture with weak or inexperienced individuals. The point here is simple – you need to be better than companies who already succeeded and have resources. You won’t be able to do so if you don’t have any advantage. These advantages can wear many forms – Unique business relations, technological capabilities, Human Resources, sales team, tax benefits etc. In any case, the team must know it’s industry, it’s stakeholders and the right way to execute. Most guys I talk to in the startup arena are not industry professionals, they like to call themselves disruptors. In their mind, it is even better that they are not coming from within the industry as the can think out of the box. That’s pure BS.
I know you’re all artistic visionaries, but let me get you back to the ground. Someone in the team must be organized. Yes, you can have a messy (And genius) partner, but someone must balance it. You’re going to deal with a lot of invoices, emails, contract and deadline – until you will get a personal assistant, the team will have to manage all that. Today it is easier than ever to have an organized business. This is a boring point, but it is extremely important.
Number 7 in our 8 business partnership skills list is Urgency. One of the things I was not aware of in the beginning, and was exposed to it’s importance only with the time, is the value of an urgent culture, when needed, in the team. Core issues must be dealt with a sense of urgency. It’s part of having that knife between the teeth. If you received an alerting email from a client or an investor, you stop everything you’re doing, and you allocate all of the partners’ energies into solving the issue. When the business grows, and you have multiple employees, not all of the daily routine must be sopped, but until that day, being the only people in the world that cares about the company, all partners are on their feet solving the problem. In my opinion, and against common intuition, this method should be used even with small issues in the beginning. Let’s say you’ve received an email from the bank, asking you to provide papers that must be sent in order to meet with state regulation. This sounds like something you can do tomorrow right? No. You handle it now. It will take you 10 minutes, but when a supplier hit you just before you leave the office with a credit cap, asking you to pay now or he cut the supply immediately, you’re going to need this bank account active. Yep, in 90% of the times it won’t happen, but in the 10% it will, it is worth to take a deep breath and make sure there are no breach that allows you competitors to crush you.
8. Detail orientation
I was lucky enough to partner up and work with all sort of entrepreneurs over the last few years. I’ve spotted a sort of spectrum that you can put all of them in. On one end, there’s the perfectionist professionals who goes into details, works with working methods and are characterized with high levels of organization. On the other end, we have the dreamers who cares about the essence, and don’t like to spend their time on the non-important 80%. There is no way to determine who’s a better entrepreneur, but it is pretty safe to say that the dreamer needs a perfectionist with him. You cannot really cope with business challenges without going into details. This is true to all business factors – Sales, HR, Development, operations etc. On the other side, the dreamer usually holds really valuable qualities – He get things done, he’s energetic, creative, visionary and can have a strategic view advantage. If you’re a dreamer, I suggest you’ll find a partner that respect and value your vision while complete you with analytical thinking and accuracy. In many cases these entrepreneurs are ex-military, strategic consultants, investment bankers, lawyers etc.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the 8 business partnership skills that are crucial for a business success. Please comment and let me know what do you think about this post and if it was valuable to you.