Common practice is to partner with someone who is different from you to broaden the company’s skill set and viewpoint. That makes sense, but my partner and I didn’t do a great job of following that practice. My partner is my brother, and we are very alike in a lot of ways.
We grew up together doing the same things, worked the same jobs through high school, started our first companies together and now own our current companies 50/50. We have similar skill sets, similar goals, similar outlooks on life — hell, we have VERY similar lives. Yet it works effortlessly, and our business is doing well.
In 2016 we will be bringing in a third partner to one of our companies. Because of this I had to begin to think about what makes a good partner. Why do my brother and I work so well together? This is a self-reflection that I never had to do before. Now it is necessary in order to ensure that our business continues to succeed.
In this article I’ll cover my thought process on why our partnership works so well and subsequently what we were looking for when we found our coming addition to the company.
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The Root of a Good Partnership
When I look at my current partnership, I can sum up why it is so successful in one sentence: My partner’s success is equally, if not more, important to me as my own.
Now, I was lucky enough to be born with a brother who feels the same way. That one factor builds this unstoppable force of forward movement. This type of partnership creates a train engine-type of propulsion. When one side pushes the half rotation, that momentum naturally makes the next push forward, one after the other, driving each other to make the next move forward.
When adopting the mindset that your partner’s success is just as important, if not more important, than your own, there is no pointing finger, distrust, arguing, or quitting. If one falls short, the other is there to fill the void, no questions.
Filling the void is not a conscious thought; it just happens. Although I was never a part of the US military, their “leave no man behind” mantra can be related to business. Soldiers live by this in order to always operate as a one unit, not as individuals. In war this supports achieving victory while saving lives. In business this supports success.
Adding a Partner
I won’t dive into exactly why we needed to bring on a third partner in this article. Instead, I want to focus on what makes a good partnership.
So the question was, how do we find someone else to bring on as a partner? For us personally, we didn’t have to; he found us. A friend we met through BiggerPockets approached us at just the right time.
Adding a third partner to a team of two brothers who have worked together all their lives may seem like a tough spot to fill. I don’t think so with the right people. We wanted someone who:
- Put the company’s and other partners’ success before their own
- Was not interested in the short term gain
- Was willing to work to pick up the slack when necessary
- Was a honest person
- Was driven not by money, but by the good things money can do
- Had an unrelenting work ethic
How Do You Find That Person?
Well, that’s all great, but how in the world will you know a person embodies those characteristics prior to bringing them on? The same way you pick anyone entering your life. You judge them! First, start with a gut feeling, then dive into their background. Do whatever it takes to get a sense of their character, past and present.
We almost gave up on the search, when the right person found us.
This man is willing to work with no pay in order to prove himself. After that, he will work as a low paid employee doing the highly demanding job of an owner. Why would he do this? Because he has all the characteristics listed above.
After he earns that trust and proves he can do this, he will become a partner and his success will be equally if not more important to us as our own. That mindset isn’t natural because as humans, we always are looking to get a leg up or help ourselves.
Do you think that when a soldier is being shot at and a comrade gets shot in the leg and can’t run, his instinctual thought is, “I need to stop, run back towards the bullets, pick this person up, throw them on my back, which will slow me down, and make it more likely I get shot”? The answer is obviously NO. Instinct says run and save yourself. It takes training of the mind to adopt the “put someone before yourself” mentality.
When the individuals of a group adopt the mindset to put the other or the group as a whole before themselves, it an extremely powerful thing.
I’ll end this with two relatable quotes.
“The greatest good you can do another is not just share your riches, but to reveal him his own.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.” – Ryan Freitas
What specific characteristics do you look for in a partner?
Leave your tips, comments and stories below!