Beware bad partners bearing cash

December 18, 2009

I met with a successful consumer products entrepreneur today, and he told me how he spent the past few months unwinding a partnership–complete with legal costs, wasted time, and frustration.

Long story short, he took investment capital from a wealthy person with nothing to do and a desire to be involved in running the business. That person proved to be a lousy operator and awful partner. The story made me cringe, not only because I’ve heard it before, but because I made the same mistake many years ago.

I know, I know, you need capital now to start–or preferably to grow–your business. But be very careful about mixing investors and partners / employees. Think about whether you need to fill a specific role on your management team. Then profile the skills and experience of your dream candidate for that role. Before you even consider having an investor fill the role, be sure they are a great fit, and that they’re someone you know very well , trust, and want to work with every day.