Choosing the Right Partner

Thursday, February 24, 2011


“This article was originally published in The National Networker Newsletter (, and is reprinted with permission. This article may not be reproduced in whole or part without including the name of this author and an acknowledgement of the fact the article was originally published in The National Networker Newsletter (  Any other use of this material is unauthorized and is a violation of law.”

David J. DunworthThe Over-Caffeinated Entrepreneur with David J. Dunworth

Choosing the Right Partner

When choosing the right partner, it’s as important in business as it is in life. Your significant other, spouse, life partner or whatever you might call that person, must be compatible, trustworthy, loyal, honest and above all, equally interested in the relationship as you are. They must contribute to the relationship on an equal footing if there is to be a lasting relationship at all. The same aspects of a personal relationship are just as important in a business relationship.

—Have you ever had the wrong business partner?

—When did you know it would not work out?

—What can be done about it once you figure things out?

My Scar Tissue Example: I once got into business with a friend that I had known since high school; we were very tight back then. As teens, we went everywhere together, did nearly everything as a pair, we even dated sisters at one point. We were inseparable.

After 30 years of life in our separate directions, we were reunited as a result of a high school reunion, and things felt like only a week had gone by. We made the decision to come up with a way to make money together, to be life long friends and business partners. Both of us were full of ideas, just like the good old days. The business ideas, dreams and invention concepts flowed like water, so fast that I could not keep up with the scribe work. I wanted to record the ideas without concern whether they were valid or noteworthy, that would come later. I needed to catalog them, so they didn’t fall off the table and disappear into oblivion.

We met every day, and reviewed the previous day’s list of ideas, trying to find that special one that could be grown into a viable entity. It wasn’t too long into the first month that I began to suspect that this new arrangement was not bearing much fruit. However, both of us had significant experience in business, although different industries. Both of us had strong desire, courage and the need to come up with a winning concept. We kept returning to the meeting place with fortitude and a goal. Eventually, the right idea would arrive, the right concept would make us grin, doing so before I withered from the frustration I was feeling.

I continued to listen to my friend espouse all that he had accomplished and all of his ideas, but began to wonder if he was ever going to settle on one idea, focus on a single target. It felt like I was the one doing all of the traveling to the meeting place, taking all of the notes, transferring them to a computerized set of notes, and just about everything else involved. Upon settling on an idea with good potential, I put a deposit down on an office, and moved in the furniture. I had enough office supplies, furniture, fixtures and equipment, and the office took shape almost immediately. I went to work on the business plan, web site, operations and training manuals, and placed the ad for new hires. My friend, my new business partner, having identified the winning concept, took an absentee partner position, thought because I had administration and management skills, I could carry the ball. I put up with his attitude, but not for too long.

To make a long story even longer, this went on for the next several weeks, but unfortunately, my partner’s brother passed away. Time passed, and I continued to finalize all of the administrative aspects of the business, including the bootstrap funding of it. I thought I had given my partner enough time to move past his mourning, but I was wrong. When I became verbal about my partner’s lack of personal involvement in the business, he took offense, blaming me for not being sensitive to the loss of his only brother. He became enraged, and we split up. I continued to operate the business, and do so to this day. My childhood friend has not been heard from since.

I gained a business, lost a friend and feel bad about it. I dished out the right type of advice to my clients, but when it came to my own situation, acted the fool, ignoring all of my advice for the sake of “the good old days.”

Scar Tissue Advice: Just as you hire slow, and fire fast when dealing with support staff, it is absolutely paramount to follow the same advice when choosing a partner. Take your time, make no promises, and clearly define each other’s expectations; then hold each other accountable.

Good fortune can be yours if you know what is expected of each party prior to beginning a new venture, even at the idea stage.

For additional scar tissue (real life learning) examples for entrepreneurs and emerging enterprises, see my blog at

For more information, please visit David’s TNNWC Bio.


About davidjdunworth

Dunworth’s success comes from a simple belief; “I can sleep when I am dead; then there will be plenty of time for that!” Since the door to door days of his youth, Dunworth has opened, managed and sold more than 25 businesses, and works as a consultant to entrepreneurs and emerging enterprises. His advice for entrepreneurs desiring to grow quickly: “Find the busiest man or woman you can find and enlist their support. You’d be amazed at the results.”
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