Small Business Tips

5 places to find a business partner

Manasa Reddigari

Want to be your own boss, but not the only boss at your business? Consider partnering up with a like-minded entrepreneur with whom you can share in the everyday highs and lows of entrepreneurship.

If you're not sure where to find a business partner, keep reading for five of the most productive places to look.

Former co-workers

Still in touch with co-workers from your 9 to 5 days? Former co-workers are an ideal place where to find a business partner. Because you already know their work firsthand, there's less risk that the partnership will go belly-up. You'll know beforehand if personality conflicts or unforeseen bad habits on their part will create problems.

The key to a successful partner search is to mentally separate out past co-workers whom you know to have experience, skill and drive from those who were inexperienced or demonstrated poor work or personal ethics in the past. Then, choose an individual who is compatible with you personality-wise and approach her to see if she is interested in leaving traditional employment for a career in entrepreneurship and has a similar business vision.

Business brokers

Business brokers help people buy and sell privately held businesses. Simply, because they're frequently in touch with entrepreneurs who are transitioning out of one venture and into another, they can put you in touch with another person in your area. Ideally, a contact who is seeking to buy a new small business as a co-owner. Then you can go in on the purchase of a business together and potentially run it together as partners.

Retaining the services of a business broker can be costly. But their knowledge about business sales and their skill in negotiating business deals can prove valuable if have the funds and are serious about setting up the terms needed for successful business co-ownership. If you go this route, be sure to work with licensed and reputable business brokers.

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Partner matching websites

If you live in a small or remote city without much business activity, your existing connections might be unable to offer much help with where to find a business partner. If this is the case, consider casting a wider net by searching for a business partner on the web. Partner-matching platforms such as or allow you to input your location and business interests and pick from a nationwide list of co-founders or business partners in your area and niche.

Don't put the partnership on paper before meeting your prospective partner in person. Certain qualities don't translate well over the web. You need to be sure that your personalities and motivations gel before making it official.

Former clients

It's typically unwise to try to lure a current client or one of his employees away from that business to join yours; this can be perceived as poaching and jeopardize your own relationship with the client. However, former clients are fair game to approach for a potential business partnership, provided that the client relationship ended on a positive note.

One thing to keep in mind in this scenario is that if your business directly competes with the business at which your former client works. She may have signed a non-compete agreement with his employer that may keep her from working at your business.

Family or friends

A happy marriage does not always equate to a happy business marriage. Which is why some entrepreneurs avoid forming business partnerships with their spouses, siblings or friends as a rule. But if your work styles are in sync, and the idea of regularly seeing your business partner both on and off work doesn't put you off the partnership, friends or family members can make for trustworthy partners.

Make sure to establish clear expectations about the role each of you will play in the business from day one. Likewise, put an exit plan in place so that you do not jeopardize the personal relationship if the business partnership should fizzle out.

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