Most business owners instinctually look out for interests with vendors and customers. If they don’t, they won’t be in business long! The one place where many business owners don’t–and it’s actually one of the most important relationships–is when they’re considering a business partnership. There are those in the business world who either stretch the truth or outright lie to achieve their objectives. Unfortunately–and you may have learned this the hard way as I did–our natural tendency to trust can hurt us. When you’re considering a new business partnership, tenacity in asking questions is a must. Even–actually especially–when the asking feels socially uncomfortable.
When a potential partner talks up their past, ask questions. Probe into those claims a little…or a lot. If what you hear sounds too good to be true, and your instincts are throwing up a question mark, that’s the time for tenacity. Ask around for independent confirmation of their accomplishment. Don’t give up until you get the truth. If their story matches reality, be excited you’ve found someone to partner with who has a history of success. In cases where they padded their results or exaggerated too much, now you know before you’ve gotten in too far. Your priority has to be to protect your business, so it’s not impolite to investigate.
Trust, But Verify
This adage was popularized by Ronald Reagan, and we’ve never been in a better position to apply it than today. We have access to a wealth of information to flesh out or corroborate a background. The internet is a powerful tool and so is your contact list. Placing a couple of calls to known associates and doing some pointed Googling to confirm your potential partner is what and who they say they are is worth it. Investigate until you’re satisfied you have the full story. There are never any guarantees, obviously, but you have to do what you can. You’ll feel better and more confidant about the partnership. (And for more quotes and information about Reagan, check out our 40th President’s wonderful Presidential Library and Museum!)
Apply What You Learn
You’ve asked the hard questions and done your research. You should be well-armed to decide if your new, would-be associate measures up to his or her claims. Even if your line of questioning doesn’t lead to new or alarming information, the way your colleague responds can often reveal a great deal. If they react badly, you’ve gotten a peek at what your future relationship might look like. Be shrewd, and no less tenacious in your judgments than you were in your information-gathering.
Get off your duff!
image credit: Bigstock/AndreyPopov