Choosing Your Business Associates

It can be difficult to know who to trust when money is on the line. Will those investors go all the way with you? Is that franchise truly as fast-growing as it appears? Here are just four tips for making sure you only partner with the best.

1. Do a Background Check

First things first: Always run background checks on the important people in your financial circle. You’d be amazed by how many con artists get away with their tricks just because their marks trust their word. You should also be on the lookout for things like debts, lawsuits and felonies. You’ll want to know right away if someone is really interested in your idea or if they’re just desperate for success to pay off a loan.

2. Look for Charitable Contributions

Companies that give back to the community are usually more reputable than the ones that don’t. For example, ACN INC regularly holds golf tournaments for the Ronald McDonald House. Others may support breast cancer research or third-world poverty. When trying to judge the character of a business, dig into their finances and see what causes are close to their heart and how much they help.

3. Talk to Their Previous Associates

Customer reviews will tell you the truth about products. Previous business partners will tell you the truth about your new acquaintance. Call their references; ask people to vet their referrals; put their last company into a search engine and track down their co-founders. Do whatever it takes to find real, candid accounts of what it’s like to work with them.

4. Socialize After Hours

Everyone puts their best foot forward during a conference. But what kind of person are they once the tie comes off? Take them out for a drink and see. You might be surprised to learn that your seemingly respectable broker is actually reckless with money or careless with secrets. If they act that way outside of the boardroom, there’s a good chance their bad habits will eventually spill into their business dealings as well.

Whether you’re looking for investment partners or just trying to vet new employees, these are a few things to keep in mind when choosing business associates. No measures are too intense when your personal finances are at stake, so don’t be afraid to use some or all of these techniques to ensure you’re making the right decision.

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