Entrepreneurs On Business Partnerships: Work With Someone You Know

Over the past decade, dramatic improvements in
technology have changed the way we do business.
More than ever, people are choosing to strike out on
their own and start their own companies. You might
call it The Age of the Entrepreneur.
But with this freedom comes challenges: searching
for capital, spending long nights brainstorming and
making tough decisions, maintaining faith in your
vision from its infancy. Finding the right partner
with whom to embark upon this journey can
perhaps be the most important decision you make
— after all, you may end up spending as much time
with this person as you do with as your own spouse
or significant other.
At the recent forum “A Marriage of Convenience:
Keys to a Successful Business Partnership,” Forbes
and Capital One Spark brought together seven
entrepreneurs for a discussion exploring the art of
the business partnership.
Nearly 200 guests were in attendance at the
December 6th event. The evening began with a
reception where attendees had the opportunity to
network over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
We spoke with entrepreneur Nick Veneris, the
cofounder (with David Gorcey) of Nerdy With
Children, a website for alternative parents whose
mission is to “encourage children to inherit the
same awesomely nerdy ways.”
“[It’s] always great to network, to see the daily
struggle that other entrepreneurs are going
through,” he said. ”It’s important to know that
you’re not alone. But that’s what makes it exciting
– there’s no safety net. That’s what life’s about. It’s
about taking risks, winning and losing, and learning
from it.”
Jordan Silverman, founder of Star Toilet Paper, a
startup that helps advertisers promote their logos
and deals on rolls of toilet paper, spoke about his
reasons for attending the event.
“Since we’re actively looking for partners on
different fronts, what I hope to learn is what to look
for in a potential partner,” he explained, “and when
to know if it’s a good fit for a company, especially a
start-up.”
The reception was followed by a panel discussion
led by moderator Scott Gerber, founder of The
Young Entrepreneur Council. The panelists
comprised a unique group of entrepreneurs –
brothers Jonah and Noah Goodhart
of Moat and RightMedia; husband-and-wife team
Tad Martin and Heidi Messer of Collective[i]; and
close friends Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky
of BaubleBar.
The panelists had a lively discussion about best
practices for choosing business partners. All were in
unilateral agreement that taking on a business
partner was an important step in growing your
business.
Panelist Daniella Yacobovsky highlighted the value
of taking on a partner: ”There are so many highs
and lows, and having someone that is going
through it with you is really a calming thing.”
In a follow-up email after the event, Noah Goodhart
addressed the benefits of taking on a partner
versus going it alone.
“Starting a business is a long and difficult multi-
year endeavor with many ups and downs,” he
said, ”and I believe you are more likely to succeed
by finding a great partner that shares your vision
and is willing to make the right sacrifices to build a
successful business with you.”
Because of the nature of all the panelists’ close ties
with their business partners, much of the evening’s
discussion also focused on the benefits of working
with someone with whom you have a personal
relationship outside of the workplace.
“In many ways, a business partnership is similar to
a marriage. At minimum, you need absolute trust in
your partner. Will this person be loyal? Will they
have your back in tough times?” said panelist Heidi
Messer, whose business partner is also her
husband.
She added, “Knowing that you are going to have
good times, challenging times and many important
decisions to make, this person should be someone
with whom you can have frank discussions (and
disagreements) about anything that impacts the
business.”
As the event came to a close, entrepreneur Victoria
Gunn, founder of Ice Wine Exclusives, expressed
satisfaction in the evening’s discussion. “One of the
things that meant most to me was simply, ‘How am
I building my relationships with my business
partners?’” she said. ”I really appreciated their
input into this, because I had not taken a lot of this
into consideration, but I will take [it] into
consideration tomorrow.”

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11 thoughts on “Entrepreneurs On Business Partnerships: Work With Someone You Know

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