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Things to Consider Before Partnering Up

Savvy entrepreneurs use these strategies to ensure every business partnership is a match made in heaven.

Great businesses are founded on great partnerships. But great businesses can also be destroyed by bad partnerships.

These entrepreneurs—and members of The Oracles—share their hard-won wisdom about what to watch out for before joining forces with a business partner.

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Jack Canfield, co-creator of the billion-dollar Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise, author of the NYT bestseller The Success Principles, and CEO of The Canfield Training Group

Trust your gut and get it on paper

All of my success has come from successful partnerships: co-authoring the Chicken Soup for the Soul series with Mark Victor Hansen; The Success Principles with Janet Switzer; and managing my companies with Patty Aubery and Russ Kamalski. My top two criteria for partnering are: One, I must like them and trust the person. Two, they have to bring something to the table that I cannot myself provide. Liking them and trusting them are subjective things, but I’ve learned to trust my gut. If anything doesn’t feel right, I don’t proceed. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when partnering is not sufficiently clarifying each other’s roles, boundaries, compensation, and exit strategies and then documenting them on paper. While it’s important to trust each other, it’s also important to ensure you are clearly on the same page before you start. People often have different understandings and interpretations if they are not codified in writing.

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Tai Lopez, investor and advisor to many multimillion-dollar businesses who has built an eight-figure online empire

Know the partner for at least a year

Before entering a business partnership, my top criterion is to ideally know someone for at least one year. (Some psychology and scientific studies say that people truly show who they are after one year.)

It’s like dating—you have to date before you get married. A business partnership is a marriage. So you need some short-term “dating projects” in business. Become good at reading people and back it up with references. If projects don’t work out, you move on. It’s like choosing not to see someone after three dates: you haven’t made a long-term commitment and will be OK.

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James Swanwick, CEO of Swanwick Sleep

X-ray their brain

The first thing I do is ask a potential partner to take the HEXACO and dark triad personality tests, which are like x-rays into their brain. It’s important to know the personality type that you’re dealing with because a business partnership is like a marriage.

Secondly, I look for people with different, complementary skills to my own but who share the same vision. It’s not enough just to like someone, which is how I used to think. If you’re an extrovert, look for introverts. If you’re the face of the company, maybe you need a nitty-gritty operations person behind the scenes. Likewise, if you’re that operations person, perhaps you need someone more extroverted.

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Also read: Understanding Your Social Currency Is the Key to Success

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