My name is Ivan Kroshnyi, I am running an international group of companies and implement all of my projects solely in partnership. I believe the key advantage of this approach is that the partners complement each other through their competencies and capacities. This, in turn, encourages the business to grow faster and more efficiently. There is not a single person in the world who can have all of the competencies and resources at once. This is why you need a partner, someone with whom you can create synergy.
When you are only starting your business, the key value of a partner is their experience. I started my first business when I was 16 years old. It was a computer equipment store. Because of my age, I was not able to open the shop in my own name and had to have a partner who was a 26-year-old entrepreneur. I have a business plan in place, lots of enthusiasm and he had what I didn’t, i.e. the experience in running a business, and knowledge of various aspects which you can understand only in real-world contexts. Eventually, we made a great team. The shop started generating profits and we were able to make money off of it.
Sharing responsibilities and duties is another major value of the partnership. For example, Alexander Gerchik and I jointly founded a brokerage company. He is a famous trader who has over 20 years of experience and a reputation as one of the most successful Wall Street traders. He became the president of the company and the face of the brand. His professional skills and expertise formed the backbone of our unique solutions for the customers. As a CEO, I am in charge of management, strategic vision, and project development. Each of us feels absolutely comfortable as far as our roles go. This is why we have been doing this business together for over six years now while our company continues to expand consistently.
That being said, the most important thing about the partnership is not so much about finding a person with unique competencies and resources but someone who will share the same values, business principles, and life attitude as you do. It’s about sharing the same worldview, things you both are striving for and the goals you are working towards. If you do not agree on these key matters, you cannot expect to build a long-term partnership. Each one of you will be always moving in different directions. Even if you have started a business together with a partner and over time realized that you are no longer on the same page, it’s better to admit that it is not working out and make a decision to stop the cooperation. One of the partners can either leave the business or one of the co-founders may buy back a share of it
A partnership can also help scale up the business quickly. For instance, when having a partner, you can achieve a profit totaling $100,000 in 6 months’ time and explore new markets. Meanwhile, if you do everything on your own, you may achieve such figures in 5 years while your competitors will be way ahead of you, or you may not even be able to get there at all.
I had an interesting case like that. An entrepreneur who has a business associated with the sale of green vehicles reached out to me last year and asked me to become his business mentor. When we started analyzing his project, I realized that it had great potential and could go global. So, I decided to become a co-investor. Today, we already have our own production in Indonesia and are actively working on sales in other countries. If he had decided to walk this path alone without a partner, he would have likely remained just another local company. There’s another important thing here. You need to understand what your prospective partner will be bringing to the table. In our case, the entrepreneur wanted to scale up and was looking for a very specific partner who has the necessary experience in entering the new markets and relevant investments. If you are building a partnership without having a clear idea in mind, it will be futile.
Does partnership come with risks? Of course, it does. There’s a risk of running into an unreliable person who will act in an unexpected way in a critical situation. There was a time when a partner had let me down big time which caused serious financial damage to the business. What I learned from it, however, is that you and your partner should have similar values. Let’s say, my key value is honesty. If it doesn’t mean as much to my partner, things may not work out as I had hoped.
That situation happened a long time ago. I now have extensive experience as far as partnerships go and whenever I meet someone new, I almost immediately know whether or not this is the kind of person I can build a joint business with, or perhaps it’s better to go our separate ways. I moved to Dubai last year and at one of the business club meetups, I got acquainted with an entrepreneur who is a coffee business expert. At the time, I was looking for a truly captivating project while he was looking for an investor. We talked. He showed me his business plan for a coffee villa and I decided to invest in his project almost right away. Because everything came together perfectly during this meeting. Our visions, goals, and values aligned. Plus, the business development plan was ready, too. As of today, we have already opened two Roasters, high-end coffee shops in Dubai with the third one opening its doors in the coming days.
Today’s world is extremely dynamic which is why business often needs you to make quick yet calculated decisions. This applies to partnerships as well. How do you find a trustworthy business partner and not make a big mistake? There are certain tricks and techniques on how to identify people's true intentions, and see them for what they are. For example, you have agreed to meet up and the person has been late without a reasonable excuse. This can mean that the person is probably irresponsible which may be a problem when it comes to partnerships. Now if a prospective partner stays true to her or his word, complements you, and shares your key values, it’s highly likely that the partnership with such a person will be fruitful.