E-Commerce · Retail

What is the best way to find a business partner if you've already started a business?

Rachel Van Metre

April 20th, 2015

I've already launched my businessan online marketplace for ethical fashion. It is two years old and already making a profit. It is a fantastic business model but to get to the next level we'll need to raise capital.

I've been in search mode for a business partner to handle this and other business aspects because I'm mainly a creative, but it's hard to find the right person. I think part of the problem is that the business is already developed and my baby, and most people want to be involved from the beginning. Also, most of the people in my immediate world are in fashion and not business. Do you have any suggestions?
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Michael CISSP Attorney/Consultant at Self Employed

April 20th, 2015

A question off the bat is, are you looking for a partner or someone who will work for you in exchange for money and equity.  If you are looking for a partner, your life will be a lot easier if there is room for this person to help manage your "baby".  

Either way, determine what kind of person you are looking for.  Since you mention raising capital you are probably looking for someone with a strong finance background, and possibly with ties to funding (VC, banks...).  Additionally it would be helpful to define what you mean by "the next level".  If you want to go public, then someone with that experience would be very helpful.  If you are looking to someone to just manage the books that is a different ball of wax and can probably be handled by a service.  If you are looking for someone to help own the business, it may be worthwhile to engage a professional recruiter.  

Michael CISSP Attorney/Consultant at Self Employed

April 20th, 2015

Hi Rachel, 

I know lots of great recruiters, but I think you would probably want someone with experience recruiting fashion-finance experts.  I would recommend searching on linkedin.  

Best of luck! 
MD

Anonymous

April 20th, 2015

Not sure if you did a search on FD but there are probably ten questions/discussion like this already http://members.founderdating.com/discuss/topic/Cofounder is a good place to start - or just the search bar. I'd read there and the founders thoughts on questions to ask cofounders here

I don't see why you'd want a finance background 
http://founderdating.com/questions-to-ask-potential-cofounders/

Finally, congrats on getting things launched but at the end of the day if you lead just with your company it's a hard sell and you're looking for an employee not a cofounder. Talk to them about you, the story and why they are potentially interesting. I'd also apply to join the cofounder network on FD - doing that seems like the lowest hanging fruit possible.

Mark Roman Consultant and Business Broker: Retired from Executive Director at CDK Global, formerly ADP Dealer Service

April 20th, 2015

I am familiar with FASHINVEST but I suspect you are late for this year's conference.   

http://fashinvest.com/event/2015-miami-fashion-tech-investment-conference-company-application/

However, I agree with the comments above: if you want a partner who brings business acumen and cash you'll be yielding control of certain aspects of the business. Define which areas are the ones in which you need help and consider how much cash equals how much equity.  I bet you'll define a great role for the new person and find 'space' for your self to grow the critical areas in which you excel.  Cheers,  m 

Rachel Van Metre

April 20th, 2015

Hi Mark! Thanks! FashInvest is actually at the top of my list but I've been advised to find a business partner to help me write a business plan before applying.  Thank you for your comments, very helpful! 

Mark Roman Consultant and Business Broker: Retired from Executive Director at CDK Global, formerly ADP Dealer Service

April 20th, 2015

Well, Rachel, for a business plan you might reach out to a B-School or one of the Fashion school Profs and offer to use your company as a 'case study ~ development planning study' so as to help you to define what 'holes' you need to fill.  This would help you have a business plan written for you at little cost while also allowing you to determine what you'll need in a partner/investor/CFO or whatever it it that you find you need. 

huzaifa ahmed CEO @leawal

May 1st, 2017

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Bob Nokley Founder MedFundPRO 20+ experience. Developed solution for specialty financing needs of med providers

May 1st, 2017

Sounds like a typical non-entrepreneur need. Now I say that with all due respect. I invest, buy to hold & sell small businesses. Always with my own capital or capital I raise. If someone approached me and pretty much said what you said, I have an automatic list of questions to ask in return. When I started out I would simply decline any interest in your business because I would have seen it as someone who needs absolute control of every part of the business, even the one part they admit they need help with. So in retrospect they would want control over the “people” or “persons” working in that capacity. So if you came to me now, I would probably reply with the following: So its your creation and your baby. You have been successful in getting your baby profitable to this point, but you need or want to go to the next step. Like the other responses I would need for you to define next step. But lets just say you want to double where your at as your first goal. I would say to you that what you have is your baby, what you need is my baby. You need the babies to play nice. Your creative and in touch in what your customers want. I am in touch in what I want for my money and time. If your business is large enough I would agree to partner. If it were to simply provide capital, I probably would not make an offer. Now none of this is intended to offend you, but should give a glimpse of what investors look for in partnerships. Per the comments of others on this link, if your looking for someone to manage your existing finances it might be better to employ them and retain your equity. However if you want them to create more value for your business, then you need to be prepared to give them equity and be competitive about it. There are plenty of qualified people that can bring value to the business. Sorry to say, those are the entrepreneurs. The bring more, risk more and get paid more. Might end up being more than what you get paid but if you get paid more than your making now, it would be a success. Whatever you do, don’t hire a friend and promise them more than you can deliver. I am not that important or too busy for a long comment, but I don't normally give a long comment but your question is a daily occurrence for me and thought it would help.

Rachel Van Metre

April 20th, 2015

Thanks Michael. That's a great idea. I never thought of a professional recruiter. I'm looking for someone to partner with in exchange for equity, and definitely with a strong finance background. The next level is just to raise seed funds. Not go public. I just don't know where/how to find the right candidate or candidates. Do you have recruiter agencies or people to recommend? 

Peter Kestenbaum Advisor, Investor, Mentor to Emerging firms

April 20th, 2015

Some comments off the top of my head - Start with someone who is a business person.. your messaging ( what is ethical fashion compared to non ethical fashion?) is too centered on "your" world.. I have no clue... and I would characterise my family fashion spend as significant.. - and helpsy relates to your business how