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How do you find partners you can trust?

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • February 5, 2024

I am regularly asked how does one find co-founders or partners in business. In other words, how can you tell whether you can trust someone?

First, its important to understand that trust is not only about integrity. Its temperament, a shared worldview and values.

Some people panic when faced with problems, you definitely don’t want them as shareholders or partners.

Dealing with adversity requires everyone to be pulling in the same direction and requires character.  Every company must deal with adversity at some stage. If you and your partners don’t look at the world in the same way, you won’t be pulling in the same direction.

Finding partners in business is not about ensuring a happy marriage; it’s about avoiding a messy divorce.

In my opinion, its a process of elimination. Expose yourself to lots of people and whittle them down using the following techniques:

  1. Make yourself vulnerable

The only way you’ll find whether people will screw you is to give people the chance to screw you. Make yourself vulnerable and you’ll filter the free-riders early on.

Rather an early betrayal than spend 20 years with your guard up, developing relationships, only to be betrayed when you slip up once.

  1. Don’t live a high life

Bugs are attracted to light. Don’t live your life in a way that creates envy. It attracts the wrong type of person.

  1. Birds of a feather flock together

Some people are great actors, you’ll never see through the veneer. The truth of their character lies in who they spend time with.

  1. References

Turn to close friends and family for advice. People that have known you a long time will know whom you can work with. Most importantly, they will know whom you’ll divorce.

The single best tool for identifying the right partners is your spouse. He or she is probably the only person who knows you well enough to have a completely reliable instinct and unselfish motives.

When your wife says, “I don’t have a good feeling”, don’t ask for reasons. Just trust her and pass.

In the end though, the only way to know whether you can trust someone is to trust that person. Close your eyes and believe…

“Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”