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There are a whole host of reasons that founders need partners, but the biggest single reason to find the right partner is that you simply won’t take the entrepreneurial leap on your own.
I happen to be one of those people that starts a business whenever I think up an idea I like. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, and I have very little fear around it, but I’ve found that many people with entrepreneurial dreams just aren’t able to take the leap alone. They need a partner in crime to dream up ideas and to make sure that they are meeting their deadlines on time. Like marriage, the future just doesn’t seem as scary when you have a great partner. It’s fun to set and achieve goals together.
Setting and Achieving Goals
John Lee Dumas, host of the hugely successful Entrepreneur on Fire podcast took a pause after his 1500th episode and reviewed what he had learned from his exceptionally successful guests. It all came down to one simple idea. The successful entrepreneurs he had interviewed knew how to set and achieve goals. Let me say that again. They knew how to set and achieve goals. So, what is the most important thing that your partner can do for you? Help you to set and achieve goals. No excuses. No delays. Get it done now. Get it done right now! And that goes double for starting your business. Just decide and get started. Then help each other to set and achieve goals on time and you are on your way to unlimited success.
Another reason for needing a partner is that they have skills or expertise that you lack. I always say that I’m the words guy. I have a sign over my desk that says “Department of Words Department.” I’m really good at words. I’m not so strong on numbers. I can do them and I can do them well, but it takes tremendous energy for me to do numbers well. Words are effortless to me. So why get stressed out over numbers and spreadsheets when I can find a partner who is brilliant at numbers and can do them effortlessly. I have a guy I work with who I call “Mr. Details.” Whenever I get overwhelmed with the number of details on a project, I call in Mr. Details. He scoops up all the details and puts them in some organized form that everyone can comprehend and act on. He is brilliant at that. Why would I stress over it? It drags me down emotionally and slows my momentum. Right now, I’m working on a turnaround for a manufacturing company and I’m bringing in a CEO with a world class manufacturing background to help me. Could I do it alone. Yes. But why? Why not get a genius on the team and move 5 times faster?
There is some expertise that is so specialized that it is mandatory that you outsource it. Legal advice is one area that is critical. Being close enough is not close enough in law. Getting it wrong can cost you your company. Even though the advice seems expensive, being wrong can be far more expensive. One of my clients ended up with a 250 thousand dollar attorney bill over a dispute over do it yourself legal work. Tax advice is another area where getting it wrong can be very expensive. I know an entrepreneur that wasn’t collecting sales tax because she was under the impression that she wasn’t required to do so. The bill she got from the tax board was one hundred thousand dollars. She could have easily given away a small percentage of her company to get that expertise for far less cost.
Sometimes you have huge workload and just need to be able to spread it out or work faster to meet a customer deadline. Having partners who can jump in and make it happen when needed are worth their weight in gold. This is certainly true if you are making or manufacturing something. You can’t be focused on customers and revenue generation if you are busy making things. Alternatively, if you are the artist or craftsperson, you need someone to work on sales and marketing so you can stay focused on production.
Some people believe that needing moral support to get your work done is a sign of weakness. I believe recognizing that you need moral support to be more effective is a sign of strength. We all suck at something and for some of us it is the discipline to get moving or keep moving. If you know that about yourself, finding a partner that can get you moving is a godsend. Who cares HOW you get your company started and serving customers? Just get it done. Every company is different. Every founder is different. Here is a little secret you probably know deep down but don’t have the data to back it up. Most founders are just a little bit crazy. Some of them have diagnosed mental illness. They are OCD or ADHD or on the spectrum. It’s OK. Those are forms of genius when applied appropriately. We are all a little bit nuts in our own way. You don’t have to do everything like everyone else. Figure out what you need to get started and keep the momentum going and never look back.
Some people are great with people. Some aren’t. That is just a fact. It’s not that you can’t get better at it but getting better at things takes time. If you are not a people person, you need a people person in your company. At the end of the day people do business with people and they are more likely to do business with you if they like you. You need at least one people person in your company who gets how humans think and function. Also know that business is a series of opportunities. Sales opportunities, partnership and joint venture opportunities, supplier opportunities, representation opportunities, etc. The more likeable you are, the more opportunities come your way. The more opportunities you have to choose from, the higher your odds of success. Make sure there are some people on your team.
Some people are natural leaders. People seem to just follow them no matter what they are proposing. If that is not you, finding a partner who is a strong leader is essential to building your team and keeping your momentum going. Leadership can be learned but it takes time. If you are currently not a strong leader and people don’t naturally follow you, you might want to consider finding a partner who is.
Growing Your Business
Let’s assume that you have gotten your business up and running but it’s not growing as fast as you want or as fast as it needs to grow to break out of the pack and start soaring. Sometimes an outside perspective can change everything. More than once I’ve seen a simple change in messaging, product, pricing or thinking change the growth trajectory of a company from slow growth to hockey stick growth. Finding a partner who can do that for you can be magical.
A Thousand Reasons
There are a thousand reasons why you may need or want a partner. The important thing is to find the RIGHT Partner. We’ll talk more about that in other videos, but what you need to keep in mind is that partnering is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. If you are going to build a huge company, you’ll need to find and onboard many brilliant people who will contribute to your growth. Ultimately, your ability to grow will hinge on your ability to lead a great team and that team starts with your founding partners.