Most business partnerships are a waste of time. Guy Kawasaki says so, Paul Graham says so (see the section at the bottom), and I have learned from personal advice that both men speak truth. The thing is, partnering is most appealing and dangerous to a startup early on. In those critical months and years where credibility is scarce, partnerships seem to offer a quick path to legitimacy and (your partner will lead you to believe) wealth. So it's imperative to develop resistance and skepticism to partnership offers. But how?
Well, one method stumbled right into my lap recently. This is a spam message that I received last week:
"LET'S PARTNER INTO PROSPERITY: Kudos!!! You've got a very good work going here. I've been contracted to develop a website and a phone application that can help people in a particular Country to learn their three different dialects. It's a multimillion $ Project to be funded by the Government. I understand that a lot of scamming bullshit is going on online but you won't need to spend a dime of yours, all we need is the service of a person that has the knowledge required which would be magnanimously remunerated. I don't know much about language software design, if you do or if you know anyone that can partner with me on this please mail me now without any delay: firstname.lastname@example.org Do you have a website? If yes, what's your website? I'm waiting ... Success!!!"
It's got all the elements of a bad partnership: vague intentions, an appeal to the legitimacy of some large organization (the Government!), a nod to skeptics, and call to action. My advice to you: the next time someone proposes a partnership, simply tack "... Success!!!" to what they say to remind yourself that most partnerships are a waste of time. What's scary is that many seemingly legitimate partnership offers are more dangerous than this example because they lure you into wasting time on them. At least in this case I can just click delete and get on with my day.