Who needs a business partner?

Spot Bill GatesThere’s a common misconception of the typical entrepreneur being a charismatic individual business person, not needing or wanting a partner’s help in driving forward his all conquering venture.

Think Richard Branson, Bill Gates, or the latest film idol, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame.

Yes they were the front men and there’s no doubt that they steered the ship, but each started their businesses with partners that had complimentary skills.

Branson always had a partner for each business he began. In the earliest years it was Jonny Gems (Student magazine), then Nik Powell (Student magazine and Virgin) adding Simon Draper (Virgin) for his music knowledge. These were share holding partners, not employees, although Branson certainly surrounded himself with a very capable workforce.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft together, while Zuckerberg’s Facebook was founded with his original partner Eduardo Saverin (now the subject of a film – The Social Network).

There must be exceptions, anyone aware of one; I’d be interested to know? As far as I can find out, almost every successful company had a partner helping it to grow.

Why? Well, it is almost impossible for one person to have all the capabilities and characteristics needed to develop a business. One may have the technical skills, the other the sales or business knowledge.

Between them they start to handle the PR and soon it’s clear that one is more comfortable in that environment and they agree that he will act as the front man.

Taking on the world yourself, with no one to bounce ideas off and to give mutual motivation is quite daunting. A strong team of employees will help fill out any skills or experience that the business needs and a mentor can be very helpful in acting as a sounding board, but there’s nothing as good as having a partner with the same skin and commitment in the game as you.

Of course choosing a partner must be done with open eyes and it is absolutely important to get the right legal and partnership agreements in place. See my guide to healthy partnerships: Business Partnerships .

It was to provide a “dating site” for people to find business partners that we started Company Partners, so I guess I am a bit prejudiced in favour of not going it alone. But it’s a hard old world by yourself.


2 thoughts on “Who needs a business partner?

  1. JBarbara Quarcoo

    Yes. One needs a business partner through thick and thin. Every time you try to involve someone in a business idea ( for some who is unemployed or already in business) they tend to say things to discourage you. Some will even admonish you others will say things like better ‘do it on your own’, ‘ your do not want any problems , especially if the other goes bankrupt’ What has the above got to do with the business growing?. I remember shouting at a relation on the phone when they decided to tell me I could do that on my own; telling them their presence was needed with all the ideas they thought I could put in motion on my own. I shouted back and indicated to them that no one can do it on their own. No man is an Island, or is that Utopia?. Of course one may have the technology such as the Computer, mobile phone, possible office space etc but to juggle all that and the duties involved and, ran around like a headless chicken, posting the hard copy letters, rushing to the post office, organising a meeting and attending it with yourself, selling all the services and products yourself, doing all the accounts and claiming all the expenses yourself is absurd.

  2. Hugh Proctor

    I’m in agreement, from personal experience. 
    I’ve spent the past five years developing an IT solution to the problem faced by CEOs replacing legacy solutions and that they feel like they are being held ransom by IT department spending millions on failed promises.

    I did this alone, and though it is now finished and I’m attempting to get my first order, hopefully in the next few months, doing the role of a salesman who is totally emotionally detached from his baby, his creation. 

    Without a team, I have little to no credibility, and the risk that if purchased and I die then the solution support system dies with me. 

    My father, who has had many business startup successes and all failed due to bad sour partners so he shouts at me not to get a partner and so far I haven’t. In one way, it’s great, I have no overheads or ties and I own 100% of my solution that, as said, hope to make money soon. On the other hand, OMG it was difficult to self motivate all the time, and now sales, then back to IT again, multi specialising is very tricky.

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