Finding a business partner is somewhat similar to making friends. The first step is to find like-minded people who are potential candidates. You can do this in many ways; for example, you can meet people at work, conferences, meetups, professional organizations, or networking events. The more connections you make, the more chances you have to find a good business partner. After you have connected with someone whom you want to partner with, the next step is to pitch your idea to him/her and make an offer. This person will either accept or reject your offer; therefore, you must be able to deal with both outcomes.
Sometimes, instead of making an offer right away, you can ask the person to help you with something related to your project. Once he/she is comfortable with your idea and you are aware of his/her interests, you can extend an offer to be business partners. This partnership can be based on common interests or in exchange for rewards, such as equity or profit-sharing.
The above process may seem a bit lengthy, but there is a shortcut. To speed up the first and most time-consuming step in locating candidates, you can use online resources dedicated to business partners and co-founders search. By doing this, you narrow down your search to people with specific interests and roles. This allows you to quickly filter out people and to target the right audience. For example, a software engineer with a fintech project can find a business developer to help with sales and scaling. Below is a list of popular online resources that are effective for business partner searches.
CofounderLab is a social network for entrepreneurs. As with all social networks, you must first create a profile. After this, you can search for and contact members. Much of its user base is in the US. CofounderLab members have different goals, including co-founder search, employment opportunities, networking, etc. You must purchase a paid membership to be able to search for and contact other users.
PartnerUpList is a popular message board dedicated to business partner search and business opportunities. With this message board, you don’t have to create a profile, which makes it very easy to publish new posts. Most of the posts are very specific, describing the offering and partnership requirements. This resource is absolutely free; it has a convenient Google-like search feature and a large user base from around the world, including the US.
This is another social network that targets tech entrepreneurs. It was founded in Finland, so its user base is largely European. Founders2Be.com recently became a paid service, so you must purchase a membership to narrow down your search by location.
Business Partner Search Tips
Being passionate about your idea is the key success factor when you are searching for a business partner. Passion is contagious. To create trust, you must clearly show your potential business partners that you are committed to, and confident about, the success of your business. If you hesitate or lack confidence, people will feel it and they won’t join you.
It’s a good idea to have long-term partnerships with people who have succeeded in business. You will find that successful entrepreneurs have a long list of projects. The start might be slow, but it usually leads to one or a few star projects that get traction. It is easier to join entrepreneurs at the very beginning, before their final projects take off. If you have a friend with business acumen, consider helping him/her with his/her projects, no matter what they are about. This will give you valuable experience and may eventually lead to a partnership in a profitable business.
Tip# 3 Have something to bring to the table
A person will be more interested in partnering with you when you have something to offer him/her. Do your homework to analyze and intentionally develop skills and acquire resources (e.g., expertise in a particular domain, experience, or connections) that your potential partners will value. For example, if you have a popular YouTube channel, a tech startup might be interested in partnering with you if you help them promote their business and acquire new clients.
Even if you don’t have significant resources to contribute, there is one thing with enormous value that you can bring to the table. This is your passion and unconditional trust in your business partner. Surprisingly, this might be more important than all tangible resources. If you establish a rapport with your partner and show that you support and trust him/her, you will be setting the foundation for a successful partnership.
Tip# 4 Meet new people
It might seem obvious, but the first and most important step is to go out and meet new people. Every new person you meet could become a business partner. Maybe it’s someone who has a certain type of skill or asset, or is simply someone you can trust. Start by researching local groups and meetups related to your interests. Then join them and commit to attending the events that interest you. Usually, it takes time (i.e., more than one meeting) to make a connection and establish a rapport. Therefore, it is better to find ongoing activities and commit to attending them regularly.
If you are familiar with the principles of professional networking, you probably already know this rule. If you want someone to help you, you must take the initiative to help him/her first. Most of my business partnerships started when I took the initiative to help other people. Eventually, when those people learned about my interests, they decided to get involved in my projects. This led to long-running collaboration and productive work together on multiple projects.