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Ideal number of partners to start a business

Have you started a business before or are you thinking of starting a business? Have you wondered what the ideal number of partners/directors you should have when starting a business? My take is that no business should be started without less than 3 partners. Beyond 4 partners it becomes difficult to manage, initially. Obviously, the skills that each partner brings is vitally important and should be complementary. But why three? In my opinion, you need at least two people to run a business. So if one partner falls seriously ill or decide to leave, you still have two to manage the business until a third can be found. In addition it is good to share the risk and burden between three people than one.

But if you considered four, then the skill sets might be:

  1. Leadership – someone need to be the ultimate decision maker in addition to pulling everything together, including taking care of mundane work
  2. Sales – Without customers, business will not last
  3. Operations – Must ensure ability to service customers
  4. Finance – Books must be balanced otherwise the business will have a short life.

For a team of three, leadership could be combined with sales, operations or finance.

If it’s a product based business, perhaps the ideal number should be six:

  1. Leadership
  2. Product development
  3. Marketing and sales – need to split these functions as soon as possible
  4. Operations
  5. Service
  6. Finance and Support Services

What are your thoughts on the ideal team for a start-up?

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