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What to look for when choosing a business partner

In this treacherous business world a good business partner can help you achieve both your business and personal professional goals. We can take a look at many successful businesses right here in The Bahamas that have been and still are successful. You may be quite surprised at some of the businesses you didn’t know started off as partnerships. Financial services company BAF Financial, Bahamas Ferries and even Doctor’s Hospital all got that kick-off as a simple partnership.

And it’s not just here locally, some of the most successful companies in the world started as a partnership. Tech giant Microsoft got its start with Bill Gates and Paul Allen at the helm, and even search engine Google, whose founders are Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Despite these glamorous success stories, there are some whose endings weren’t so favorable. In business many make some major mistakes when it comes to the first step of deciding a business partner. Here are three keys to building successful business partnerships.


  1. Trust and respect: These are two indispensable ingredients to a successful partnership. Both are so critical to this all-important business relationship that if either is lacking, there’s little hope of building a workable partnership. If you find that you and your potential partner continuously doubt each other’s judgment, this is a strong indicator that trust is lacking — and without trust, respect is sure to be missing, as well. This is an important red flag to recognize before it’s too late.


  1. Resolve issues: You and your potential business partner must be able to resolve issues quickly. No partnership is entirely free of conflict. And while even the closest and most compatible partners may clash at times due to the depth of their passion, these disagreements offer opportunities for some out-of-the-box thinking. Arguments can actually be quite healthy for business partners to engage in, as long as they fight fair, always find a way to make up and make up quickly! If they aren’t able to toss aside their egos and call a truce, their partnership is doomed to fail sooner or later.


  1. Be complementary: Find a business partner who is strong where you are weak. Partners are meant to complement one another. As co-founders of an organization, each person has the responsibility to exercise his or her strengths to balance out the other’s weaknesses. If you are the analytical numbers person, having a closer or someone who can go out and bring in business is someone you need as a partner. It’s like a basketball team, for a simple analogy. There is someone who rebounds the ball from off the glass and then there is a scorer who can go on the floor and put up points for you to win the game. Both are very important, but you can’t win the game without both.

If you aren’t successful with finding these very important traits in a business partner, not all hope is lost. Sometimes your business may not need a business partner and you will have to do it on your own. Oftentimes a self-evaluation can help determine if you can or cannot work with a business partner.


  • Quinton C. Lightbourne is a certified financial planner with the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland and vice president of the Bahamas Investments & Securities Business Association (BISBA). E-mail:
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