You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Should You Partner With the Veteran Leader or the New Kid on the Block? Weigh the risks and rewards, and don't let age tips the scales in either direction.

By Kyle Zagrodzky

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Hero Images | Getty Images

Forging a business partnership is a huge undertaking. When you create a formal alliance with someone, you're building something very similar to a marriage. There's a lot of faith, hope and optimism coupled with announcements, legal documents and the actual undertaking of the project at hand.

A great partner can elevate your talents and ideas to incredible heights. But to find the right partner, you have to understand your own strengths and weaknesses as well as theirs. You want someone who brings something different to the table, but also a relationship that can foster plenty of mutual understanding and productive momentum.

Related: The 3 Types of Partnerships Startups Need to Form

Sometimes, entrepreneurs are lucky enough to be able to take their pick of partners, and the candidates may vary with respect to who's "new" and who is "established." Both can have apparent advantages and risks, but the most important thing is to evaluate every potential partner as an individual.

Weigh the risks and rewards.

If you are thinking of partnering with a promising newcomer, the risks may be higher because they are untested, but that person may offer a unique perspective that engineers extremely creative solutions. On the other hand, a longtime leader may have experience, but that could translate to demands for a higher paycheck or bigger piece of the pie. Whether someone is a newbie or seasoned, never forget that no one is bulletproof. Even Daymond John, FUBU founder and famous Shark Tank investor, recently admitted that he lost $750,000 in his first season on the show.

Don't make age the deciding factor.

The number of years between now and someone's birth date isn't generally a number that matches up with their IQ, emotional and social intelligence, instincts or maturity. The oldest person in the room may act like a toddler throwing a tantrum, while their grandchild might speak with the vision, sensitivity and clarity of an old soul. Younger generations shouldn't discount older generations as stodgy sticks in the mud, and older generations shouldn't assume that the "kid" doesn't know what she's talking about. Instead of judging a book by its age, decide based on things that actually matter -- business acumen, creativity and work ethic.

Related: The Secret to Great Partnerships Is the Triangle of Talent

Consider the full spectrum of business experience.

Businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban started working at age 12, selling garbage bags to save for a pair of shoes. Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered newspapers as a teenager and worked at a paper mill. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ran a summer camp for kids when he was in high school. None of these early odd jobs may seem to directly relate to what these superstars went on to achieve, but the point is -- if you are smart and work hard, all experience is a chance to learn. When someone is gifted, every experience can fuel big ideas. Some jobs are less flashy than others, but what counts is the experience the worker takes with them and how they use it. Never assume a full resume is flawless or a short one is worthless. Instead, ask what people got out of their experiences.

What does the partner get out of the deal?

Great partnerships offer value to both parties, so think about what you need most as well as what your potential partners need most. Those needs and values should align so that both of you have something to offer each other. If you can't offer a high salary, but your partner is already established and willing to take stock instead, things may work out perfectly. If someone has huge potential but little experience, they may be willing to meet you in the middle in exchange for your willingness to bet on them.

Related: 4 Steps to Build Contacts and Cultivate Relationships

How strong is the potential partner's commitment?

No matter how passionate you are about a business, sometimes life presents challenges that make it hard to commit everything a growing company demands. If you're going to partner with someone, their commitment to the business should be as strong as yours. If someone is entangled in another serious undertaking -- caring for a family member or sticking with another full-time job or other activity that takes a lot of time and mental energy -- it's important to ask if they have enough room to partner with you as an equal. Someone who is just starting out, is launching a new career in the field or is semi-retired, might have more energy to offer than someone mid-career who has lots of other commitments. Regardless of the potential partner's age, ask yourself if they really have the space for partnership.

Kyle Zagrodzky

President of OsteoStrong Franchising, LLC

Kyle Zagrodzky is president of OsteoStrong, the health and wellness system that boosts bone and muscle strength in less than 10 minutes a week using scientifically proven osteogenic loading concepts. OsteoStrong introduced a new era in modern fitness and aging prevention two years ago and has since helped thousands of clients between ages 8 and 92 improve strength, balance, endurance and bone density. In 2014, the brand signed commitments with nine regional developers to launch 500 new locations across America.

 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business News

Yes, You Can Buy a Foldable Tiny Home on Amazon — And Now It's Selling for Less Than $12,000

The waterproof and flameproof house was listed around $35,000 a few months ago.

Business News

This One Word Is a Giveaway That You Used ChatGPT to Write an Email, According to an Expert

"Delve" has increased its presence in written work since ChatGPT entered the scene.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Starting a Business

4 Common Mistakes That Will Spell Doom Your Ecommerce Business

It's hard to spot a success story before it happens, yet it's easy to tell if a business will struggle. With that in mind, here are the four most common mistakes people make that you should avoid when starting an ecommerce business.