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One of the biggest reasons that businesses fail in the first few years is a disagreement between the founders of the business. Here are some tips on picking a business partner that are inspired from a question that was asked to Larry Weintraub at Digital Threads.
Do not ignore the red flags of your partner
Often times entrepreneurs are so excited to get their start up off the ground that they look over the flaws in their partner. They will overlook major personality faults that could cause the company to fail in the long run because they are currently worrying about the present. This mindset will lead you to failure; do not get caught up in this idea that your partner will be perfect. You will need to take time and reflect on your decision of a business partner and if you have doubts then do not go into business with them. You can find a partner who will help with your start up eventually, so do not settle for the first one that comes to mind.
Do not do business with family
While at first it might sound like a great idea to go into business with your brother or cousin, you should defiantly reconsider before doing so. While there will be an established trust between you and your family member, there are also deeper issues. Siblings may not be able to let go of rivalries they have had for many years or the oldest may feel like they have to be in charge because that is how its been in the family structure.
Another reason is that the constant contact that comes with family will cause issues that aren’t business related to gain traction in the work place. This is a classic case of the Seinfeld “Worlds Collide” Theory. As a entrepreneur you have to keep your work and your home life separate and cannot let one affect your interactions with another. This is impossible if you are working with a member of your family.
“My business partner was not my best friend.”
This statement made by Mr. Weintraub can not be stressed enough. The qualifications that make someone your friend do not equate to a good business partner. Once again you will need to step out of the flurry of emotions you are having about your start up picking up off the ground, and think about why you are making this decision. Once again, picking your best friend can cause a set of dramatic problems that have no place being in your start up. The last thing you need while balancing this company is worrying about if your decisions will challenge your friendship.
“You are going to get burned once or twice, but go for it”
Even if you listen to all of this advice your business partner may not work out. They may try to take over your idea and push you out, or they may betray you and steal the company out from under you. Things like this happen to everyone and you cannot let a single bad occurrence ruin the rest of your life. Things like this are the inherit risk you have as an entrepreneur and as someone who is putting trust in another human.
If this does happen to you do not quit, but learn from it. See what caused this negative situation and learn how to make sure it never happens again. This is similar to the mantra of skateboarders that “The skater who never falls never learns new tricks”. Think of this experience as a loss of naivety and learn that people are not inherently good. Its better that you learn this in college then have your career destroyed later in life because you put too much trust in someone who “would never harm you”.
Hopefully this article will give you some insight into what it takes to find a great business partner. If you have a story of a successful partnership or one where it failed I would love to hear about it in the comments, or feel free to contact me.
If you want to succeed in today’s market you need to get over this mentality as fast as possible. People who tell you that there is already a company doing that or that this niche is already filled are people without vision for the future. They follow the current trends and cannot see past them. If every company listened to people like this then innovation would be at a standstill.
Companies like Google,Firefox, and Facebook all challenged the current market leader and won, you can too. Google could have just let Microsoft keep the search engine market share when they started, or Firefox could have let internet explorer keep its overwhelming browser user share but they didn’t. Each of these companies outworked Microsoft and stole away a major share of the respected markets because they put the effort in. Mark Zuckerberg could have also just let Myspace continue to lead the social network world but instead decided to challenge them. Now over 300 million people have created Facebook account and it is the definitive king of social networking.
Each of these companies had a vision and a reason why their product was better, and then worked their asses off to beat the competition. This is what you will need to do as a entrepreneur. If you know your product is better then what is being given right now then people will find it and use it. This could be a clothing line with better designs, or a blog with a better voice and writing style.
The main thing you are going to have to do is convince yourself that you can take down the giant and not just play his game, use your competition as a constant motivator instead of a deterrent. If you can adjust your focus away from the negatives then having a big competition will become a plus. A large and successful competitor in your field means that there are tons of potential customers you can steal from them, as opposed to thinking that they own all the potential users of your product.
While college is a great time to learn and grow as a person, it is also a great time to try a few business ventures. The reason college is such a great place to experiment with startups is that you have something to fall back on if your business doesn’t work out. If your blog about raising miniature poodles doesn’t become the Internet sensation you hope it would then you are still fine financially because you are doing this as a side project. The penalty for failing is minimal compared to when you are graduated and this business idea is your main salary. Think of your startup as a great way to spend your free time in college.
A startup is also great job experience and helps you learn good business judgment in a rather low scale scenario. While growing your business you will have to make many decisions on how to spend time, where your funds go, and how to manage your content. All of these activities will help you train your skills for when you graduate and get a job, or your startup could even become your job.
Better Interviews with potential employers
Your experience working with your start up will be a great story to tell when you are being interviewed for an internship or job. Your employer will be impressed that you took the time and effort to create something outside of your average schoolwork. Your passion will also show through the way you speak about your start up. Your employer will be captivated by how you explain your idea that you created as opposed to being bored as you tell him how you swipe student ID’s at the health center. This could potentially differentiate you from the many other applicants and help you stand out to get that position.
Your idea could end up being a great source of income
If your start up works out then it will become a source of income that you will actually enjoy. Many college students work on campus or at local fast food restaurants in order to pay for their expenses but you will be a step ahead of them. You will be running your own business and will have a greater feeling of pride in what you do.
These are some of the many reasons why starting a business in college is such a great idea, and its ok if you do not have the experience or the knowledge to get it going right away. That is why we are here at DormtoRiches. We are here to support our readers on their ways to successful businesses. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have or leave them in the comments.