How do you spot a toxic business partner, ideally before you are in business with him? Bad business partners can literally ruin your life. They can employ a scorched earth approach to your business. They can make false allegations against you. They can ruin your public reputation. They can even try to send you to jail.
We are judged by the company we keep. That is true in friendships, in business relationships, in marriages. The people we trust and surround ourselves with will have a big impact on our lives. It is important to choose wisely.
Here are a few tips I’ve gathered through personal experience:
First of all, you need to check out the background of your proposed business partner. If that partner has a history of nasty litigation with prior partners; a criminal past; has been accused of tax evasion in the past; has a lousy relationship with his spouse and/or his children; or has blown up prior business relationships for no good reason, run away. Don’t walk, run.
Secondly, if everything initially with that partner seems too good to be true, you are likely missing something that will hurt you in the end. Business partnerships should be a true give and take. They should be balanced and each partner should understand and appreciate exactly what the other partner brings to the relationship. If your partner does not appreciate the value you bring to the relationship, exit the partnership. That lack of appreciation will never change and will cause big problems down the road.
Thirdly, if your business partner shows no empathy towards others, you have a problem. People who are narcissistic and self involved feel every perceived slight deeply but have no sympathy or understanding for others who are experiencing real pain. Watch how he treats his loved ones. If he is always talking derogatively about his spouse, for example, he will likely also speak the same way about you to third parties. Also indicative is how he treats people less powerful, less rich or less educated than himself. If he treats those people with disdain, he is to be avoided.
Fourthly, if your proposed partner seems to never be the one at fault and always blames others, he is trouble. Those who don’t acknowledge their own mistakes are guaranteed to repeat them. Unless someone is reflective and realizes that he makes mistakes, that person can never learn from his mistakes. If you meet someone like this or are in partnership with someone like this, you need to get out.
There is nothing better than being in a positive, enjoyable, productive partnership with people you care about and appreciate. There is nothing worse than having a toxic business partner. He will suck the life out of you no matter how well you perform and how well your business may do. In the end, toxic partners will ruin you and your business. Get out while you still can.