You have a great idea for a business. You’ve tested it, maybe even sold a few items and now want to take it to the next level. Maybe you need some funding, a technical expert or you just need someone to run the business-side while you generate growth ideas.
No matter your entrepreneurial situation, there will come a time when you discover that you can’t do it all alone. When you get to that juncture, you have two options:
- Hire an employee
- Find a partner
The key to finding a business partner is to share your business and/or idea with as many people as possible. You never know when someone has a brother-in-law or former colleague who’d make the perfect business partner for your business. Don’t be so concerned about someone stealing your idea. If your business really is so simple that someone can steal it from hearing the idea, someone will eventually stead it anyway. Instead, concentrate on making your idea better and share it to get other's interested and excited.
Finding a partner is all about networking. Whether online or off, the tactics are the same. Find someone who shares your dream and that you have chemistry with. Their skills and abilities should also compliment yours; instead of mirroring your own.
Below you’ll find a number of different options for networking for business partners and some guidance for utilizing them correctly:
As social networking continues to grow in popularity, getting connected with other people has never been easier. Networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter continue to grow in popularity and each is a great way to get your message out fast. Chances are great that an old friend (or new one) will want to chat about your business idea. Don't overlook LinkedIn as it is a great option for business networking. It is actually designed around the concept of business networking so it is accepted and encouraged for you to introduce yourself to your friend’s contacts. If you don't have accounts, you can find them here:
Online Networking Groups
MeetUp remains a great way to connect with others who are interested in the same topic as you. Although the service is web-based, the actual networking takes place offline in the real world. Very often you’ll get a chance to meet fellow entrepreneurs who are looking to start or grow their business. Just don’t immediately yell out, “I’m looking for a partner for my new business.” That’s like a single person walking into a bar and starting off a conversation with “I’m looking for a spouse.” Instead, make connections, find people you like, discuss your business ideas a bit and see what transpires.
Dedicated Online Partner Finding Sites
Dedicated partnership search sites work like dating sites, except that instead of finding your perfect romantic match, they attempt to connect you with the perfect business partner. It may sound a bit strange, but if you are looking for a partner in business, it may be worthwhile for you to check it out.
Offline Networking Groups
Offline networking groups like the Chamber of Commerce have existed for hundreds of years to lobby on behalf of small business interests and to give local business people a forum to interact and network with each other. The oldest Chamber in the United States is in New York City. It has been continuously operating since 1768.
Different business niches also have their own networking groups, and there might be a more specific one in your community to check out.
- Chamber of Commerce
Family, Friends and Colleagues
The most common place to find a business partner is within your current circle of friends, family and colleagues. The mom and pop business is also the most stereotypical type of small business. The trust that comes with working with someone you know on a personal level can be quite comforting and those people will trust you most in the world. Take your ideas to them first. Put your business plan together (for a new or existing business) and share it with them. Chances are, someone who knows and loves you, will want to be your partner. Make sure you also like and trust that person of course - as that will be a critical component to your success.
The key to finding a business partner is to connect with a variety of different people from all walks of life that you have a connection to. If you belong to a church, club or sports team, you already have a wide variety of connections to share your partner search with. Do not be afraid to talk about your business and ideas to everyone. Ask for opinions and be sure to then ask if anyone has any suggestions for help, mentor-ship and even a partner!
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