At the book-reading of Sam Obafemi’s latest book, My Valleys, a question was thrown open as to why most new start-ups fail to attract desirable capital injection and so ultimately fail in the first 3 years. Another striking point was why most Nigerians were averse to partnerships. These questions led to the answers I’ll attempt to address in this post.
A business is a unique legal entity and is regarded as being distinctively separate from its owners by law. A business partnership takes the same form but more or less becomes even as legal binding as a marriage for the partners involved. I’m a business-man, some might call me a serial entrepreneur since I’m always thinking up new ideas and turning them into projects or on-going business concerns.
Now most folks that haven’t ventured into the field of entrepreneurship may think starting and building a business into one that is highly profitable is rocket-science. Well it isn’t exactly so, however for a fresh start-up entrepreneur in modern day Nigeria with limited access to finance and an even more restricted social capital (a professional high-end network of key decision makers in organizations) or a deficiency of the technical know-how hence demanding the necessity of someone with the required intellectual capital; soon it becomes imperative to gain access to any one or a combination of the aforementioned type of capital- social, intellectual or financial. In choosing the right partner while it is important to have someone who shares the same passions and ambitions as you do concerning the business venture being proposed; it is even more important that the partner being considered has much more than just passion, he/she must be able to supplement and make up your deficiencies or lack thereof.
Hence if a creative director of an advertising agency desires to break out of the 9-5 rat race and start up his own agency but soon realises that he obviously requires the services of a art director, but can’t afford to pay for one with his limited start-off capital, he’s better off partnering with someone that fits the profile with high proficiency in graphics design. Likewise if a lady with a flair for haute couture desires to open her fashion label but has limited experience in tailoring; she’s better off partnering with a proven skilled tailor and drawing designs while the tailor actually does the sewing and stitching. Likewise a person starting a NGO for children with disabilities and has good rapport and experience with these kids might consider partnering with another individual with limited knowledge of autism and other child related disabilities but does possess a vast professional network in order to solicit for support and sponsorship on the marketing front.
A partnership especially one within the context of the service-based industry allows both partners to work in the best interest for the company at all times. An ideal partner would usually work for longer hours with lower pay initially and with far more dedication than a paid employee for the simple reason that he has more at stake and higher profits for the organisation translates to a higher rewards for him.
Generally an ideal partner is also more loyal than a paid employee and would resist the urge to jump ship at the slightest whim due to the lure of a higher salary elsewhere. The same qualities that one finds desirable in a life partner is similar to that of an ideal business partner. Dedication towards making the (marriage) partnership work. Sincerity of the partner is key for trust and loyalty to be built. To achieve this from the onset issues regarding to finance should be agreed upfront i.e retained earnings, percentage for partners, salary and job roles. Dependability is equally a major point- you must be able to rest in confidence that your partner is able to deliver on his job and constantly learn to improve and hone his/her skills. Flexibility to change and adapt to mitigating circumstances that might arise in the course of building a global brand.
While I do realize that not everyone is opportuned to be born with a silver-spoon, and even for those that were fortunate at some point somewhere along life’s journey some have lost the spoon- think Donald Trump. However the case maybe, all hope is not lost because I’ve discovered that while poor people focus on money, rich people focus on ideas and adding value. The goal therefore for any entrepreneur is to come up with an idea that is so huge and bold that it demands the assistance of a partner to contribute value either through social, intellectual or financial capital towards bringing the goal to reality.
Money comes and goes. The dollar may rise and fall but ideas would forever remain the next big thing. Modern day billionaires such as the co-owners of Apple- Steve Jobs, Microsoft- Bill Gates, Facebook-Mark Zuckerberg and several other co-founders of Fortune 500 companies understand the concept behind having a brilliant idea and finding the right partner to work with towards achieving it. So don’t allow your dreams and ideas die for lack of financial, social or intellectual capital; write a well-thought through mini-business plan, reach out to interested individuals and exchange and collaborate after all two heads are better than one!
Questions to ask yourself:
1. What’s your BIG business idea?
2. Who would be the ideal partner to have start this journey and what input and skill-set should the partner bring into the partnership?