5 steps to choose the perfect business partner

— Thinking about going into business with someone you really, really like (or maybe even love)? Don’t.

While it might seem logical to launch a new venture with someone you get along with, that closeness can actually be a drawback, says Sandy Jap, a professor of marketing at Emory University and author of Partnering with the Frenemy.

“If you have a good relationship with someone, say a friend, that warm fuzziness you feel can often times keep you from seeing clearly the economics of the situation,” she says, pointing to research that shows good rapport can actually lead to bad business decisions.

Confused? Don’t be. Jap outlines the necessary steps to finding a business partner that will help your enterprise soar.

1. Three little words: “You complete me.”

The best qualities you can find in a business partner are ones you don’t possess yourself. Basically, you want your partner to bring something to the table that you know you can’t.

“You’re looking for a partner that does something you don’t have expertise in,” notes Jap.

“Whether that’s R&D, transportation logistics, software development, manufacturing… you always want a partner that’s going to have a skill set or process that’s complimentary to whatever it is you do.”

2. Look for someone blunt

Obviously honesty is an essential quality in anyone you go into business with, but Jap says what you want is something that goes beyond honesty.

“Trust is useful for greasing the wheels, but what research shows is that trust alone isn’t enough for maintaining business relationships that work,” says Jap.

“What you’re looking for is a partner that will be honest with you, even when you don’t want to hear honesty, and that’s going to be brutally honest, and honest quickly,” she adds.

Though it may hurt to hear at the time, a partner that lets you know of a problem at the earliest stage is an incredible asset, she adds.

3. Ask the tough questions

When you’re starting a new business, obviously the last thing you want to think of is it going wrong, but Jap says it’s important to think of that as a possibility — particularly if you plan to go into business with a friend or relative.

“You have to think through what’s going to happen if this doesn’t work, and how that will feed over into your personal relationship. Will your relationship be able to stand that?” she says.

She highlights that it’s particularly important to expressly outline the roles each of you intend to play, what your expectations are of each other, and how you intend to handle conflict in the future.

“You don’t want to play the blame game. If you’re going into business with someone close, you need to think in advance of what and how the relationship will work if things go wrong.”

4. Charisma is good. Reliability is better.

Charm can go a little way in furthering business negotiations, but it’s hardly the be all and end all, says Jap.

“So many people believe that better relationships are always good for business, and it’s somewhat true, but having a warm and rosy relationship or spending time to wine and dine a customer can be expensive and can pull your focus away from a customer relationship that may be more deserving of that effort,” she says.

Rather than pick a partner based on their schmooze factor, she says it’s better to pick one who is reliable — as unsexy as that may sound.

“You want a partner that is trustworthy, and that really means predictable to some degree. You want a partner that you know is not going to be opportunistic or try to screw you over constantly or cheat in small ways,” she says.

5. Cast your net wide

As mentioned earlier, it’s best to team up with someone who has a different set of skills to you, and that often means looking beyond your personal relationships.

“Unless you come from an enormous family, you probably won’t find too many complementary skill sets within your own family,” she says.

Instead, she recommends relying on a network of professionals, which she says you can source by reading trade publications, networking at industry events, and researching what suppliers and distributors are favored by the competition.

She also recommends joining exchanges, like online procurement network Ariba, which match buyers and suppliers.

Stringer Bell, Luther, Mandela… the album?

— It is not easy to capture a man’s life in 152 minutes, let alone a life as illustrious and complex as Nelson Mandela’s. For London-born actor Idris Elba, who played the South African leader in the 2013 biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” the task was sure to feel Herculean.

“I could never really articulate what it felt like to play Mandela properly in an interview,” he admits in a phone conversation with CNN.

Though the actor is British, and physically bears little resemblance to the late South African leader, Elba recalls the unexpectedly warm reception he received, particularly from extras on set — many of whom were locals who lived through the apartheid era.

“South Africa is very embracing. Even though I’m not from South Africa and was about to play Mandela, they still gave me a lot of love,” he says. By the end of filming, many were even calling him “Madiba.”

The experience, life-changing in many ways, was bound to feel odd. For Elba, the best way to capture not just the man but the feeling of playing him on film, was through music.

Next week will see the release of “Mi Mandela,” a tribute to Mandela made up of songs written and produced by Elba himself, and performed by a mixture of South African and British talent, including Mumford & Sons, the Mahotella Queens and Maverick Sabre.

“There were various sensations I experienced (playing Mandela), and I could never give an answer I was satisfied with. I think this album represents that answer. It allows me to express the feelings of playing him,” says Elba.

The “Luther” actor describes the record as a “character album,” and hopes to produce similar projects for the many other roles he’s taken on over the years. In this respect, “Mi Mandela” is as much about his own journey as it is about Mandela’s. In the album’s title song — the only one that Elba performs on — he has a tongue-in-cheek lyric about the casting choice.

“All the families showed me love, the people wished me well/The whole town wondering how Mandela could be played by Stringer Bell,” he sings, referring to his breakout role in HBO’s “The Wire.”

“It’s the thoughts I was thinking at the time of making that film. Music is a good way to get closer to a character, closer to an actor. It describes the whole journey of playing Mandela. It’s better than any picture, any postcard, any script, any autograph from an actor,” he says.

“I would love to hear a character album from Marlon Brando in ‘The Godfather,'” he admits.

“Just to understand what Marlon was going through at the time of making that film, how he was feeling playing that character. What kind of music would that be? What would it sound like? That would be fascinating for me.”

A link to his father

For Elba, playing Mandela had personal resonance as well, as filming for the role coincided with the death of his father.

“I lost both men around the same time,” Elba confides.

“Mandela reminded me of my dad, and my dad reminded me of him. They were both massive symbols in my life.”

Elba describes how his father, a Sierra Leone-born shop steward working out of London’s Hackney, fought for the rights of union workers at a time in English history when their plight was particularly arduous (it was Maggie Thatcher’s time in power, after all).

“He was always equating himself with Mandela and people like Mandela who were standing up for what they believed in, and I would always succumb to 30-minute lectures about rights,” he recalls.

He co-wrote the song “Tree,” which features on the album and is performed by American artists Audra Mae and Cody Chesnutt, partially as a tribute to his father.

“Somebody tell my father, that we are standing by his tree/ And even though we miss him, we are glad that he’s set free,” the lyrics go.

“That song is particularly moving to me,” says Elba. “As much as I wrote it for my dad, it relates to Mandela too, even more so now.”

Idris Elba’s “Mi Mandela” is set for release on November 24.