Culture and Religion can be deeply rooted in an entrepreneur – and because of the potential significance of these two aspects of a person’s being, prospective partners should discuss whether their cultural and/or religious differences can make working together a difficult – or maybe even an enlightening – experience.

Jane Out of the Box, an authority on female entrepreneurs, conducts
extensive research with women business owners about all aspects of
business ownership and success. Its new book, “See Jane Collaborate:
Your Essential Guide to Joyful and Prosperous Business Partnerships,”
incorporates the results from interviews and discussions its authors
have conducted with both women and men involved in business partnerships
ranging from short-term joint ventures to business co-ownership. From
their research, this article discusses the importance of considering two important characteristics when starting a partnership.

Characteristic 7: Compatibility of Cultural and Religious Differences

The question: “When considering culture and/or religion, can each partner feel comfortable working with the other?”

Research shows that female entrepreneurs who partnered with people of different cultural or religious backgrounds experienced a variety of outcomes. For example, a black entrepreneur partnering with a white entrepreneur said she spent several weeks just “hanging out” with her prospective partner to detect any potential prejudices. An Italian business owner said she made it clear to her partners up front that members of her large extended family would likely be dropping by the business “all the time.” An Orthodox Jewish doctor who was planning to merge her practice with two colleagues made it clear that the partnership wouldn’t work if the “on-call” schedule didn’t accommodate her religious commitments (unless a life-threatening emergency occurred).

Whether people admit or realize it, they may hold prejudices about people with specific cultures or religions. It’s important before forming a business partnership, to hash out the issues that may arise as a result.

A Review:

When considering creating a business partnership, a female entrepreneur would do well to practice due diligence before signing the legal forms. To start, each entrepreneur should carefully evaluate these seven criteria:

1. Suitability for Entrepreneurship: Is the prospective partner well-suited for being self-employed?
2. Compatible Business Goals and Values: Are there any conflicts around the partners’ business goals and values that would prohibit or jeopardize their ability to successfully partner together?
3. Complementary Business Skills and Business Competence: What is each partner bringing to the partnership in terms of skills, knowledge, work experience and strengths?
4. Solid Credit History and No Trouble with the Law: Do prospective partners’ credit history and legal status live up to the way they present themselves as businesspeople?
5. Compatible Money Goals and Values: Do the prospective partners view money and risk in basically the same way?
6. Family Commitments: How will each partner’s family obligations impact his or her time spent on the business?
7. Compatibility of Cultural and Religious Differences: When considering culture and/or religion, can each partner feel comfortable working with the other?

Open and honest communication around these seven important topics will provide prospective partners with enough insight into each other’s business style and skills to make an informed decision about whether the partnership has the potential to succeed.

Author's Bio: 

Michele DeKinder-Smith, is the founder and CEO of Linkage Research, Inc, a marketing research firm with Fortune 500 clients such as Starbucks, Frito Lay, Tropicana, Texas Instruments, Hoover Vacuums and Verizon Wireless. She parlayed this entrepreneurial knowledge and experience into founding Jane Out of the Box, a company that provides female entrepreneurs like YOU with powerful resources, such as educational blogs, teleclasses, newsletters, and books. Michele was recently named to the National Association of Women Business Owners national board of directors for a two-year term. Buy a copy of her latest book with coauthor Azriela Jaffe, “See Jane Collaborate,” which contains more in-depth information about this article’s topic, at