If You Had Only One Question . . . ?

Posted on June 11, 2012 in Business Partners

From Daneen Skube, Ph.D., in the Seattle Times came this question-and-answer about business partnership:

<<Q. I’m thinking of going into business partnership with my friend. Is there any question I should consider to help me make a decision?

A: Yes — would you marry your friend? Marriages are not the only unions that have a bad end when two people aren’t compatible.>>

This reminds me of the question I was often asked as a child when, for example, blowing out birthday candles.  “Make a wish,” my parents would say.  “If you had only one wish, what would it be?” asked well-meaning relatives.  I could never limit it to one . . . or three, like Aladdin.  I would always wish for an endless supply of wishes.

Here, I realize that Dr. Skube may well have been constrained by space limitations in her article.  But just one question?  And that one?  There are so many questions about going into business with a friend — as there are about going into business with anyone else.  The important question is not “would you marry your friend?”  What you look for in a business partner is not necessarily the same as what you want in a romantic partner.  Nor need a business partnership be a “death-till-we-part” relationship.  The intense time spent together, the parallels between a business partnership and a romantic partner are not — to me — what’s at the heart of the matter.

If I had only one question, I think it would be “what does your business need to grow, and can you and your friend really provide it together?”  Or, as I mentioned in an earlier post, does your friend have the skills or connections the business needs to grow?

What do you think?  If you could ask only one question, what would it be?

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