Getting hitched: Finding the right business partner

During many of our discussions with developers for The GameDev Business Handbook, the conversation turned to finding the right business partner. The first step in making the right match is identifying someone you can trust with your studio’s future.

Often, these relationships start with friendly networking. Sure, you’ve met plenty of business-minded folks, but not all of them inspire trust. It’s not too much later that you might have a complex business matter that could benefit from expert guidance.

You might eventually choose to work together, if the right opportunity presents itself. If that goes well, with enough planning and experience, you might choose to share financial futures. This is not a decision you should enter into lightly. Entangling your professional life with someone else can be uplifting, but it’s not without risk.

Yes, this sounds quite a bit like marriage

It’s a comparison that emerged multiple times in our interviews.

You might find someone who is wildly different from you. In our conversation with Harebrained Schemes’ Jordan Weisman featured in The GameDev Business Handbook, he urges developers to be thoughtful about taking on a partner.

He suggests that the most important thing is finding a match for your values: how they treat people they work with, their work ethic, the importance they place on work-life balance, their goals for success, and other core principles that motivate and inspire. Shared values are crucial for building a business together. “Make sure that those are really aligned, because otherwise you’re just pointing towards troubles in the future,” Weisman cautions.

Your potential partner might come from a different background with different experiences. They may have no experience at all with art, design, or coding.

Different skill sets help create a more well-rounded relationship

You want to build your game, spending your time solving design problems and crafting the experience. They are an expert in keeping the books balanced, working with attorneys, and guiding the studio’s financial health.

Together, you can be formidable partners, laying the groundwork for a growing studio. That doesn’t mean it will always be smooth sailing. Disagreements are healthy, especially if all parties feel comfortable honestly debating major decisions. If you’ve made thoughtful choices about partnership, you’ll have the security of knowing that the business’ success is driving passionate debate

You can read more about finding the right business partner, leadership styles, and growing your studio in The GameDev Business Handbook.

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