J. Kelly Hoey

#CareerEntrepreneurship: Questions To Ask Your Future Business Partner

Brenda Irwin has a more than intriguing career path — she’s been a teacher, a strategic (corporate) venture capitalist and most recently has teamed up with an Olympian to invest in healthy living innovations. And I thought my own career had some interesting zigs and zags!

Knowing that it takes more than a great idea to have a great partnership — and great ideas need more than one founder — I asked Brenda in her Founder Focus interview if she had any tips on how to approach a new partnership arrangement, and more particularly, what are the questions that need to be asked before you take the leap and say “Hey, let’s go into business together!”? Here’s what Brenda’s had to say: We took a while to get into a rhythm, coming from wildly different backgrounds as professional athlete and venture capitalist. My recommendations have been difference makers for our partnership. Predictable perhaps, but critical nonetheless. Here are questions I suggest you ask and the priorities you should explore with your future business partner:
  1. What are your short term and long term goals? How long is ‘long term’? How short is ‘short term’? Partner with intention.
  2. “Where does our business/partnership fit into the day”? Clarify competing priorities. Determine how and where the partnership fits across personal, health, family and professional commitments. Discuss each category. Set boundaries from the beginning.
  3. Everyone makes assumptions about others. It’s a natural instinct. Clarify your assumptions with these questions: What do you consider your contribution to the partnership? What areas do you want to focus on? Which area could you use the most support?

Read my complete interview with Brenda here — yes, Brenda had so many great insights, her interview is in two parts!


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