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How do you find the right people?

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Sep 4, 2007
Silicon Valley, CA
How do you find the right partner(s) or investor(s) for your business/investments?

When I married my husband, it was the first time for me to own a business and have investments. Before then, I never had a say in who I wanted to work with or who would be in my group. The idea of working with people of my own choosing is new to me. I've sat on selection committees so I have a basic idea of what to look for but I would like to know if there are other things I should consider or examine more closely.

If I go based on personality traits, there are people who I enjoy being around but they have no desire/interest beyond a 9-5 job. If I go based on qualifications, I've met some people that I cannot stand, even when making small talk.

My husband has been let down by qualified people that he trusted to hold up their end. From my limited observations, I thought that he trusted people too soon. I think someone posted a quote by Warren Buffet a while ago saying that you wanted your employees to have 3 things, integrity being the most important piece. Some people that have let my husband down were his closest friends that he had successfully done business with prior. Or what if the person talks a good game and looks great on paper but morphs into someone unexpected? How do you avoid or lessen the chance of that happening?

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Legendary Contributor
Speedway Pass
Aug 24, 2007
Some general thoughts:

- Start first with those people who you believe have the skills to accomplish what you want to accomplish. From there, narrow it down to those people you trust. From there, narrow it down to those people you would enjoy working with. That should sufficiently limit your choices to very few potential partners.

- Make sure you have something worthwhile to bring to the table. If you're looking to invest, you either need to bring experience, contacts, or money to the table. If you're looking to start/run a business, you should have some business experience (development, marketing, sales, management, etc) to bring to the table. If you have nothing to bring, you won't be attractive to any serious partners, just those looking to take advantage of you.

- Make sure that your skillset complements your partner's skillset. If you're starting a web business, and you have lots of technical skills, you want your partner(s) to have marketing/sales/finance skills to round out your experience. If you're going to invest in real estate and you're bringing the experience, your partner(s) should bring the money. Some overlap in skills is okay, but you want diversity to round out your partnership.

- Make sure your partner(s) has a vested interest in the outcome of your partnership. If you bring all the money/relationships/etc to the table, what does your partner have to lose. Trust is a wonderful thing; leverage is better. And there is no better leverage in a partnership than ensuring that your partner has as much to lose as you do if you don't both act in good faith.

- Sometimes there's no partner out there (that you can find) who can adequately complement your skillset. If that's the case, don't force it. If you can't find a partner, spend your time learning the skills you would otherwise be looking for in a partner. As you improve your skillset and gain more experience, you'll find that partner come seeking *you* out.

Hope that helps...


New Contributor
Sep 12, 2007
I'm gonna go at this one from a little different angle, although I think JScott's analysis of finding good partners/people is excellent. I also want to preface my comments by saying that I have little experience building businesses/relationships in the private sector. However, I am a fireman who lives with his crew for 24 hours at a time, so building relationships and trust is very important to me, whether it be working, living, personal, etc.

From information I remember in some of your other posts, it seems as though at least part of your problem may lie in the lack of a clear-cut plan, or a lack of understanding of that plan by all the members of your team.

For example, despite the fact that I love my crew and trust them unconditionally, if we went to a fire, jumped off the engine, and just started doing stuff, we wouldn't be very effective, and it would be very frustrating. Thus, the need for things like standard operating procedures (a business plan). But, if we had standard operating procedures (business plan) and didn't follow them, didn't know them, or didn't train according to them, the result would likely be the same or similar to if we had no SOPs at all.

To relate back to your situation, a couple of things...First, my initial reaction when you said that you had a group of 15 people investing together was "Wow, that must be tough." Not impossible, but definitely tough, to have 15 different people on the same wavelength. Second, I think it's possible that you may have good people--ones that your husband has succeeded with in the past, and that you trust--but a lack of a good plan or understanding of that plan may be holding you back somewhat.

All just ideas, obviously I don't know the specifics of your exact situation. Good luck...


Jan 15, 2008
That is a great suggestion. I think that a clear goal will allow everyone to see where thay belong in the process to attain that goal.


Sep 4, 2007
Silicon Valley, CA
Thanks everyone.

Yeah, there is a definate lack of understanding across the board. I've offered to go over the financials and the plan with those that don't get it but no one has taken me up on it yet.

I just want to avoid getting myself in a similar situation in the future! I will definately take everyone's input and my lessons learned from this experience!

Diane Kennedy

Bronze Contributor
Aug 31, 2007

I know you've been frustrated in particular by one lady in your group. (I remember that from other posts.)

Any luck on just buying her out?


Sep 4, 2007
Silicon Valley, CA

No luck for the short term. There is another couple who also wants her out and they have a friend that is interested but he has been very hard to catch on the phone. We're working on getting a refi and at that point, we could definately buy her out then. Fortunately, she has been quiet these last few days; I hope it continues!


New Contributor
Jan 11, 2008
Jacksonville, FL
one thing that we have dont that seems to work is this.. clearly spell out responsibilities...

for example..

if i were to open a restaurant and we agree you will be the manager.. clearly state that I will finance the operation.. you will repay me your half over a five year period.. during that time you are required to work 40 hours per week at a salary of 40k per year..

if you fail to updhold your part of the deal with working.. a new manager will be hired and will be paid with your part of the profits..

usually when partnering up work ethic becomes the biggest strain.. you own half but if one person is working 2x as much.. hard feelings emerge..

some people are workers but would rather make 2k a month doing nothing than 5k actually working..

clearly spell out responsibilities with penalties as well.. sign a contract and have it binding.. then there can be no hard feelings later on


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