In my recent experience, many of the clients I see visiting us at the Small Business Centre are struggling to afford the people power they need to get their businesses off the ground. Many need to hire the engineer, designer or skilled labourer required to bring their new product or service to the market.
In some cases, the logical answer is not to find an employee, but instead a partner, someone with complementary skills who can fill in the gap.
Artisans have mastered a particular craft – they could be computer programmers, engineers, creative directors who have the drive to see their idea hit the market. Sometimes these people seem resistant to bringing in a partner because they want to “own” the idea; it’s their baby, why should they have to share it? The problem is that these product creators sometimes can’t see the clear path to making a first sale, or creating a marketing message that is simple enough to reach the target audience. Making a sales call or finding financing might seem overwhelming.
The entrepreneur often excels at making a sales call to the first big prospect, playing the field at the local networking event, writing a financial projection that will suit the bank’s needs. A strong entrepreneur might be the one who can sort through all of the great features the artisan has created and figure out how to describe its benefits to the consumer. Perhaps this is even the person who helps the designer know when to stop designing and start selling. Or perhaps this person has a great product idea but is struggling with finding and affording the skilled labour needed to make their product a reality.
Partners share. Partners experience the highs and lows of business with you; they feel the same pressures, they celebrate successes with you. It can be tough to find the right match – this could happen by chance, through networking, advertising, word of mouth or even using one of the new online sites such as Founderdating, which aims to help you find co-founders with complementary skill sets. And, of course there are legal issues to consider. But if you do it right, the results can be well worth the effort.
The bottom line is that I would rather own half of a business that gets off the ground and makes lots of money (or at least a wage to live on), than spin my wheels on a business idea that I don’t have the specific skills, energy and money to get off the ground all by myself.
Are you working in a successful business partnership? Have you experienced the strengths of person with your complementary skills set? Comment below or email us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.