Business partners

You want to start a company with someone. You both are hooked by an idea.

Great! Now let’s do a business together.

Check your partner

Before doing business together, check your partner carefully. The right amount of mistrust is the key. You are going to spend more time with your business partner in the coming years, than with any other person.

I often heard, that doing a business together is like a marriage. And I think that’s right.

Over the years I have set up a few questions, what I want to know, before teaming up with someone. These questions have one primary goal: Check if your business partner is just looking for some easy money or if he/her is really into the idea of your business.

The questions are:

What do you want in life?

The question „What do you want in life?“ is a profound inquiry that goes beyond the scope of business aspirations and ventures. It prompts individuals to reflect on their personal values, goals, and aspirations, providing insights into their motivations, priorities, and outlook on life.

Here’s why this question holds significant importance:

  1. Clarity of Purpose: Understanding what someone wants in life helps uncover their core values, passions, and overarching objectives. It provides clarity on their intrinsic motivations and what drives them to pursue certain endeavors, including entrepreneurial ventures.
  2. Alignment of Values: Shared values are fundamental for building strong partnerships and collaborations. By asking about their life goals, you can assess whether your potential partner’s values align with yours, fostering compatibility and mutual understanding.
  3. Long-Term Vision: The aspirations individuals have for their lives often shape their long-term vision and goals, including their career and business pursuits. Knowing what someone wants in life can provide insights into their ambitions, aspirations, and the direction they envision for themselves in the future.
  4. Personal Growth and Fulfillment: Personal fulfillment and growth are integral aspects of a fulfilling life. Understanding what someone wants in life allows you to gauge their aspirations for personal development, growth, and fulfillment, which can influence their approach to entrepreneurship and professional endeavors.
  5. Work-Life Balance: Balancing personal and professional aspirations is essential for overall well-being and satisfaction. Knowing what someone wants in life enables you to explore how they envision achieving a harmonious balance between their personal and professional pursuits, which is crucial for fostering a healthy and sustainable partnership.

Overall, the question „What do you want in life?“ fosters deep introspection, meaningful conversations, and a deeper understanding of individuals beyond their professional identities. It encourages authenticity, vulnerability, and empathy, laying the groundwork for building strong relationships, collaborations, and partnerships based on mutual respect, understanding, and shared aspirations.

Are you willing to do this all your life?

The question „Are you willing to do this all your life?“ is a profound inquiry that delves into the depth of a potential business partner’s commitment, passion, and long-term dedication to the venture. It prompts individuals to reflect on their career aspirations, personal goals, and willingness to make a lifelong commitment to the business.

Here’s why this question holds significant importance:

  1. Long-Term Commitment: Starting and growing a successful business requires a considerable investment of time, energy, and resources over the long term. By asking about their willingness to commit to the venture for life, you gauge the extent of their dedication and their readiness to weather the challenges and uncertainties that may lie ahead.
  2. Passion and Purpose: A genuine passion for the business idea often drives entrepreneurs to persevere through adversity and pursue their goals relentlessly. Asking about a lifelong commitment helps assess whether your potential partner shares the same level of passion and believes in the purpose and mission of the business.
  3. Alignment of Values: Long-term commitment to a business reflects alignment of values, vision, and objectives between partners. It ensures that both parties are working towards a shared vision for the future of the company and are committed to its growth and success over the years.
  4. Stability and Reliability: Partners who are willing to commit to the venture for life demonstrate stability and reliability, which are essential qualities for building trust and fostering a strong partnership. It instills confidence in the sustainability of the business and strengthens the foundation for collaboration and growth.
  5. Flexibility and Adaptability: While a commitment to the business for life is desirable, it’s also essential to recognize that circumstances may change over time. Entrepreneurs who are willing to make a lifelong commitment should also demonstrate flexibility and adaptability to evolving market conditions, industry trends, and personal circumstances.

Overall, the question „Are you willing to do this all your life?“ encourages honest introspection, fosters alignment of values, and helps establish a solid foundation for a long-lasting and successful partnership. It initiates essential conversations about commitment, passion, and shared vision, laying the groundwork for mutual trust, collaboration, and achievement of common goals.

Do you plan to exit? If yes, when?

The question is crucial for understanding a potential business partner’s long-term commitment to the venture and their strategic vision for the future. It addresses the possibility of one or both partners eventually leaving the business and prompts a discussion about exit strategies.

Here’s why this question is important:

  1. Alignment of Goals: Understanding each partner’s exit strategy helps ensure alignment of goals and expectations. It allows for a transparent discussion about individual aspirations and timelines, enabling both parties to assess whether their objectives for the business align in the long term.
  2. Investment Horizon: Different entrepreneurs have varying investment horizons and timelines for achieving their objectives. By discussing exit plans, partners can gain insights into each other’s timeframes and determine whether they are compatible with the overall vision for the business.
  3. Contingency Planning: Planning for potential exits is essential for risk management and business continuity. Knowing when a partner intends to exit allows for the development of contingency plans to address succession, ownership transitions, and other operational considerations.
  4. Strategic Decision-Making: Understanding the timing of potential exits informs strategic decision-making within the business. It influences decisions related to growth, expansion, investment, and resource allocation, ensuring alignment with the partners‘ collective vision and objectives.
  5. Legal and Financial Considerations: Exit strategies have legal and financial implications that need to be addressed proactively. By discussing exit plans early on, partners can establish clear agreements, such as buy-sell arrangements or shareholder agreements, to govern future transactions and mitigate potential conflicts.

Overall, the question „Do you plan to exit? If yes, when?“ facilitates open communication, fosters alignment of goals, and enables partners to plan strategically for the future of the business. By addressing potential exits upfront, entrepreneurs can lay the groundwork for a successful partnership built on transparency, mutual understanding, and shared objectives.

Say, the idea doesn’t work out. What is your strategy?

The question is a crucial inquiry to gauge a potential business partner’s resilience, adaptability, and preparedness for challenges. It prompts them to consider contingency plans and demonstrates their ability to navigate setbacks effectively.

Here’s why this question holds significance:

  1. Risk Management: Entrepreneurship inherently involves risk, and not all ventures will succeed as initially envisioned. By asking about their strategy in the event of failure, you assess your partner’s ability to anticipate and mitigate risks. It shows whether they have considered the possibility of the idea not panning out and have prepared accordingly.
  2. Adaptability: A partner who has thought through a strategy for failure demonstrates adaptability and flexibility. They are more likely to pivot, adjust, and explore alternative paths if the original idea proves unsuccessful. This trait is invaluable in navigating the uncertainties of entrepreneurship and maximizing the chances of eventual success.
  3. Resilience: How a potential partner responds to failure reveals their resilience and determination. Partners who have a well-thought-out strategy for handling setbacks are less likely to be deterred by obstacles and more inclined to persevere in the face of adversity. This resilience is essential for weathering the inevitable challenges encountered in building a business.
  4. Alignment of Expectations: Understanding your partner’s strategy in the event of failure helps align expectations and prepares both parties for potential outcomes. It fosters transparency and open communication, enabling constructive discussions about risk management and contingency planning.

Overall, the question „Say, the idea doesn’t work out. What is your strategy?“ serves as a litmus test for assessing a potential business partner’s preparedness, adaptability, and resilience in the face of uncertainty. It encourages candid discussions about risk management and contingency planning, ultimately strengthening the partnership and increasing the likelihood of navigating challenges successfully.

Are you fully committed to this idea or is it just some side-hustle?

It is essential for assessing the level of dedication and passion your potential business partner has towards the venture. It distinguishes between individuals who see the business as a primary focus and those who view it merely as a secondary endeavor or a means to generate supplementary income.

Here’s why this question is significant:

  1. Clarity of Intent: By asking this question, you seek clarity on your partner’s intentions and motivations. It helps determine whether they are genuinely invested in the success of the business or if they are treating it as a temporary or secondary pursuit. Understanding their level of commitment is crucial for aligning expectations and fostering trust in the partnership.
  2. Risk Management: Partners who are fully committed to the idea are more likely to be willing to invest the necessary time, effort, and resources into the business. Conversely, if someone views the venture as a side-hustle, they may not be as willing to take on the risks or make the sacrifices required for long-term success.
  3. Long-term Vision: A partner who is fully committed to the idea is more likely to share a long-term vision for the business. They are likely to be more proactive in driving growth, innovation, and sustainability. Conversely, if someone treats the business as a side-hustle, they may be less inclined to make strategic decisions or invest in the company’s future.
  4. Compatibility: Assessing your partner’s level of commitment helps determine compatibility and alignment of goals. If both partners are equally dedicated to the idea, it strengthens the foundation of the partnership and increases the likelihood of achieving shared objectives.

Overall, the question „Are you fully committed to this idea or is it just some side-hustle?“ is instrumental in evaluating the suitability of a potential business partner and ensuring that both parties are aligned in their dedication, vision, and long-term commitment to the venture.

In what role do you see yourself inside the company?

The question „In what role do you see yourself inside the company?“ serves as a critical component of assessing potential business partnerships. It delves into the individual’s perception of their own strengths, skills, and contributions within the organizational structure.

This question aims to uncover several key insights:

  1. Self-awareness: By asking this question, you prompt your potential partner to reflect on their own abilities and preferences. It encourages introspection regarding their professional strengths, weaknesses, and where they believe they can add the most value to the company.
  2. Alignment of Expectations: Understanding each other’s envisioned roles helps align expectations from the outset. It ensures that both parties have a clear understanding of who will be responsible for what aspects of the business. Misalignment in roles and responsibilities can lead to conflicts and inefficiencies down the line.
  3. Complementary Skill Sets: Ideally, partners should possess complementary skill sets that enhance the overall capabilities of the company. By discussing preferred roles, you can identify areas where each partner excels and where there might be gaps that need to be addressed through hiring or collaboration.
  4. Long-term Planning: This question also provides insights into your potential partner’s long-term commitment and aspirations within the company. Depending on their response, you can gauge whether they see themselves growing and evolving alongside the business or if they have a more limited scope of involvement.

Overall, the question „In what role do you see yourself inside the company?“ fosters transparency, encourages open communication, and helps lay the groundwork for a cohesive and effective partnership by ensuring that both parties are aligned in their expectations and contributions.


In conclusion, starting a company with someone can be an exhilarating journey fueled by shared passion and a compelling idea. However, amidst the excitement, it’s crucial to approach the partnership with a balanced mindset that incorporates a healthy dose of scrutiny and introspection. Just as in a marriage, embarking on a business venture demands trust, compatibility, and a shared vision for the future.

Taking the time to thoroughly vet your potential business partner is akin to laying a sturdy foundation for a lasting and fruitful collaboration. The questions outlined serve as invaluable tools to gauge commitment, alignment of goals, and the level of dedication each party brings to the table.

Ultimately, the success of a business partnership hinges not only on the brilliance of the idea but also on the strength of the relationship between the partners. By engaging in candid conversations and assessing compatibility early on, entrepreneurs can mitigate risks, enhance communication, and pave the way for a mutually rewarding journey toward achieving their business goals.


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