I don't know whom I should work with. But God does!

Lately, I’ve found myself praying, “Lord, please don’t let this deal close if it’s not the right partner.” 

That’s a BIG departure from where I was a year ago when, somewhat desperate, I wanted every deal to work out. Left to my own discernment, I would currently be contractually bound to people and businesses that are just not a good fit for what I’m building or what I believe in. 

For example…

  • A business run by a guy whose office walls were covered in porn and who implied that he could get around the law. 

  • Another business leader that, by many measures, is the top in the area but with a self-professed penchant for partying hard at the expense of personal relationships. 

  • One woman, a very talented and growing entrepreneur and an excellent fit for what I’m building, had I signed a deal with her, would have damaged relationships I know I need to invest in. 

Now I find myself asking God to confirm who is the right partner. Just because someone has the finances, interest, or even if they look like a good fit in my own mind, it doesn’t mean it’s the right partner for me.

Here’s my checklist to determine how I should proceed:

  1. Is this a business I want to promote? Someone recently told me I should partner with a divorce attorney, so I started to research who was best. Then it hit me, why would I point people that direction when I could instead lead them to a marriage counselor. Given my desire to, whenever possible, see relationships healed and restored, the latter makes more sense. I now screen against what I want to stand for. 

  2. Do the leadership/staff have integrity? One doesn’t have to share my faith, but I hope to see some indication that they operate with values like excellence, customer service, attention to detail, positive messaging. I’ve opted out of working with a few partners due to observed behaviors that are troubling, at best. This is a fine line because I also want to acknowledge that I never have all the facts and people, including me, have bad days. 

  3. What are we each trying to get out of this, and can I help? I try to sense poor motives, like a company trying to make a quick profit or exploit something or someone. I also need to believe that I can help the business get where they want to go through the partnership. No amount of money is worth taking if I know I don’t at least have a shot at delivering high value.  

  4. What does God want me to do? This is most important, and because I’m a man of prayer, I pray over prospective deals. This is a HUGE ‘x-variable’ because at times I have turned away from sales that made sense in every other regard. I don’t always know why I don’t have peace about the deal, but I serve a God whose ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:8), and trust that he wants good for me (Jeremiah 29:11), so I just do it. 

This discernment, practiced on a daily basis, begins to become refined so that sometimes even in the midst of a conversation I get a sense if it’s a fit or not. Other times it will take weeks or months of prayer, listening, and wise counsel. And it doesn’t just work to screen out deals, there are occasions when it doesn’t seem to make sense that I should work with someone, but I feel peace about it and so continue to pursue it.

Ultimately, this way of vetting deals has been challenging, especially since in my current role I’m looking at up to 10 deals a week and completing 2 or 3. However, the quality is improving, and I trust that these are going to be the right partners in the long run. Not to mention, the anxiety of overthinking and overworking deals is fading away as I trust God. And, I’m even celebrating when deals don’t go through, in the world of sales, this is indeed a peace that passes all understanding!