So, you’ve broken up with your former business partner, or you are starting a new business, and looking for someone who is a good fit. As a Denver business lawyer, and a woman who has dated a lot, I can't help but draw parallels. Finding the right person to work with you in your business is a lot like the romantic courtship process. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe people should honor some principles on both counts. Here are a few of my “rules” for finding the right [business] partner:
1. Don’t Sleep Together on the First Date
We often romanticize someone who seems on first glance to be exactly what we are looking for, whether that is tall, dark, and handsome, or a C.P.A. with ten years of public accounting experience who is ready to contribute to a growing company. Too often, I have seen people get burned by rushing in without really getting to know the other! Unless you have an immediate need, get to know the person slowly. I love contract employee situations. I love working as a contract employee when a company needs a temporary in-house counsel, and I highly recommend the situation to my clients as well, because it gives both parties a chance to feel each other out. How are finances handled? How is conflict dealt with? Do your values and ways of relating to people seem similar?
2. Be Open to Getting Set Up
One of the best ways to meet eligible candidates, for dating or for business, is to ask the circle of people you trust for recommendations. Let them know you’re looking, give them your criteria (try not to be too picky!), and let their minds whir. Chances are, there are at least a few people they can throw your way.
3. Meet Each Other’s Families
When things start getting serious, it’s time to cautiously take the next step forward. It can be helpful to chat with someone from the person’s business or work “family” – someone with whom he or she worked closely, to get that person’s take on the things you’ve started to vet out for yourself – work style, interpersonal dynamics, values. Similarly, introduce the candidate to key members of your team that he or she will be spending a lot of time with, to ensure compatibility.
As with romantic entanglements, business relationships can be very rewarding when synergy exists. Someone I worked for in college described synergy as "1 + 1 = 3" -- the sum of you two together exceeds what you can do alone. I hope these tips help you find the very best match for you! (And, if you are seeking a romantic partner, get in touch - I'm a "scout" for an exclusive matchmaker!)