Director at Atlays, which advises future entrepreneurs in the choice of their partners, Frédéric Rensonnet delivers the essential questions to ask.
Am I partnering with the right person?
Frédéric Rensonnet: Being friend (s), colleague (s) or spouse (s) is not enough. The first thing to do is to learn about the professional background of the “candidate”. We must favor people with an entrepreneurial spirit, with a taste for risk and able to become strongly involved in the company with a desire to “surpass themselves”.
We can ask ourselves the following questions: Will he / she be a follower or capable of initiatives? Will he / she be able to make decisions on his / her own on matters of daily business life whenever the situation demands? But will he / she also be able to share with me the important facts and decision elements impacting the company’s strategy?
It should also be verified that the new associate has a complementary profile, so that one of the associates deals with the issues on which he is in his comfort zone, while the other takes care of his favorite subjects or those on which he can express all his talent or all his competence. It is also necessary to learn about the past of his / her potential partner (e), both in financial terms and in legal and judicial terms.
Do we have a common vision for the company?
An essential point: the partners must have the same objectives. It is of course necessary to verify that the vision of the project is the same, in terms of development strategy, quality of the product or service and the financial investments to be made, but also that the level of motivation is equivalent.
It should also be validated that the partners have the same conception of the management of a company and share common values in terms of management. The timing of association is also very important. If we team up when setting up a business, we are quite often on an equal footing. During the life of the company, the association may correspond to a need for funding or human or even technical resources.
In this case, the balance of power can be imbalanced between the founders and the newcomer. In both cases, the vision of what the company should be and then become can vary quite significantly from partner to partner. However, it is essential to adopt a common position in order to be able to move forward together.
Have we taken the necessary precautions to make the association sustainable?
The partners must plan the operating procedures of their association by setting up a shareholders’ agreement for SAs or partners for LLCs.
This document binds the partners together. Most often written by a lawyer, it specifies the terms of future collaboration, in particular: the sharing of powers and the means of control of non-executive partners; the pooling of resources and, where applicable, the rules for distributing the company’s results; the procedures for settling disputes, the conditions for the sale of shares in the event of exit and the non-competition clauses.
A successful association is a decisive asset for the company. It makes it possible to multiply one’s development potential but also to better bear the burden of responsibilities and the consequences of strategic and managerial decisions. This is why this long-term commitment must be part of a reasoned approach where the human dimension, even if it holds an essential place, must not be the exclusive driving force in the choice of its partner (s).