What do I do when I have a possible business partner that does not have the skills and knowledge, but has the desire to learn?
My possible partner has moved from Canada to the USA to assist in the startup of the business. He has very little knowledge about business and marketing, but has a deep desire to learn and grow. At this time I'm showing him the ropes and he is not an asset to what we are doing.
Choosing a partner is one of the most important startup decisions youll ever make. There is no reason to have a partner unless he or she brings something to the table that you dont whether thats startup capital, useful contacts or a particular skill set. A partnership is a legal agreement, and the actions of your partner can put your business and your personal assets at risk. Last, but not least, the strength and experience of your management team is a key consideration in the mind of any potential financing source, be it a banker, angel investor or VC. So an inexperienced or weak partner can greatly hurt your chances of getting financing. (For a good overview of partnership issues, go here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/startingabusiness/startupbasics/businessstructure/article77980.html
You dont say why you want to make this person your partner (perhaps he is a friend?), but if he brings no assets to the table, he really is not a good candidate for a partner at this time. As you are discovering, he is
more of a liability than an asset.
If you are determined to have him involved, consider giving him an employee role that is suited to the area he wants to learn about. If he eventually demonstrates the necessary strengths, you could make him a partner later on. Its a good idea to consult with an attorney about
the best way to structure this.
Tim Berry is the chairman of Eugene, Ore.-Palo Alto Software
, which produces business-planning software,