View Full Version : Approaching a Potential Business Partner

04-18-2006, 12:12 AM

I was wondering if anyone had any advice about retaining a business partner.

For my business to succeed, I need to somehow bring in a psychologist as a partner. The problem is that I don't know a psychologist, and I need some way to make sure that the individual I bring in is qualified. I could pitch my idea to psychologists who on paper seem competent, and have them sign an NDA (I'm a year away from becoming a lawyer, and my lawyer friends who do transactional work have offered to draw one up for me). However, simply pitching my idea to a psychologist gives ME zero feedback on their social abilities/intelligence/business acumen/general character.

I've tried getting references from people I know for qualified psychologists they could vouch for, but to no avail. Is it out of place for me to have a professional sign an NDA, pitch a business idea to them, then take them out to dinner several times and interview them before extending an offer for equity? Or do people generally pitch ideas to others with the intent of definitely bringing them in as partners?

Sorry for the length--any feedback would be tremendously appreciated.


05-13-2006, 04:28 PM
Hi vyasad,

Very interesting scenario and questions.

Just think about the word "partner". You are going into a relationship, yes its business, but it is a partnership that you are looking for. If you think of it the same way as we look at other partnerships, you want to start by looking for the type of people that you are attracted to, in this case, make a list of "ideal" traits in the phsychologist you are looking for, once you know what you are looking for, then start dating (figuratively of course, you're interviewing).

Start by having the person sign an NDA, go ahead and explain that this is a standard procedcure for most businesses and even individuals that are sharing business information.

I'm not sure how you are structuring your partnership, but if you are going into a 50/50 partnership right from the start. You are going to have to become pretty intimate with the person you are going to marry, sounds wierd huh :?:

I digress to a word on partnerships here; Most partnerships (just like marriages, now estimated above 50%) fail. It doesn't mean people shouldn't get married and it doesn't mean that partnerships shouldn't be formed. It does mean that there is an inherently higher risk to these businesses. You are truly heading into a business marriage, so give it the same care and scrutiny as if you were picking a mate for life.

Okay, back to the task at hand. The more you know about that person that seems to be "the one" the better. Background checks, personal and professional references, spending time with them, if they are married or have a significant other spend time with them together with your other (if you have one). Put them in social gatherings and observe how they do, put them in business meetings, see how they do. The more the better. Even after all that, no guarantees, you will end up going with your gut in the end, but get as much information to give you a leg up on your decision as possible.

Once you are there and say "this is theperson I want to marry in business till death do us part" :lol: Draft a pre-nup including a recinsion period :!: :!: :!: That way if you end up not liking each other (you know, leaving the toothpaste cap off and stuff like that), you can back out graciously.

The more detailed the partnership paperwork is the better. This will help you through the tough times and is what you both should be referencing during a "spat". It avoids all of the "you said" and can be pointed to as a third party by saying "it says".

Hope this helps. Incidentally..insert hold harmless clause here. :D