I’m getting asked this a lot recently. Here are some thoughts:
1. Yes, but don’t rush in
Watch people in role. Spend time getting to know them, once the initial impressions and distractions have worn off. Spend time courting before marriage. Keep all options open.
2. Be clear on who you want/what you want them to do/be
IMPORTANT. Get pen and paper, draw a line down the middle & have ‘Assets’ on the left and ‘Liabilities’ on the right. Note down all physical, material, emotional and experiential assets you possess on the left, and all liabilities, flaws, dislikes etc on the right. The RIGHT (NOT the left) is who you are looking for. Be clear first before you jump into bed with someone.
3. Start slowly, with one deal/small project
You don’t have to go all in and give everything away up front. Test live with a deal and keep an open mind. This will save a lot of legal and operational entanglement later.
4. Ensure you have different skills with a similar vision
The vision must be similar, the skills and roles must be different. This is very important. Ask them about their vision and values.
5. Don’t tell them you are watching them
Watch them in role when they don’t know they’re being watched so you see their genuine behaviours and characteristics rather than attempting to make a good impression.
6. Get clarity on roles & responsibilities EARLY
Get pen and paper, draw a line down the middle and put their roles and your roles on either side. Most should be clear because they will be/you are very different, and a few will need to be negotiated between you that neither or both of you want to do. Do this early, get agreement and have in in written form. Do a future org chart with all roles for cute mapped out and your and your partners name in all of them. Then pick them off by hiring up over time.
7. Once agreed, desire & work to give them value & be the best partner they could wish to have
Stop looking at what they should be doing and focus on what you can be giving. Desire to be the best partner, and they will step up too.
8. Keep commuicating honestly
Communicate often, be honest but respectful about how you feel and talk through challenges with a solution focus.
9. Do not go into ventures they would see as distracting/disloyal
NEVER do things they would see as competitive, a time distraction or without them without discussing, involving them or getting clear agreement first.