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business planning

It worked for Research In Motion and Tim Hortons, and Farell Duclair is banking on it to deliver for his enterprise.

Having a business partner to share ideas with and get encouragement from works best when one side has the vision and the other the cool, rational analysis of an expert.

"What I would say to anybody is 'find a partner who has the skills that you don't have,' " said Becky Reuber, a professor at the Rotman School of Management and an expert in entrepreneurship. "You want somebody with the business smarts, but you want someone with the knowledge."

A business-minded partner can also help temper an entrepreneur's wilder ambitions and keep them focused, said Adrian Herschell, a veteran businessman and consultant with Plutus Consulting Group, who has advised Mr. Duclair on his plans for an athletics-focused school in Vaughan, Ont.

While Mr. Herschell isn't a partner in his customers' businesses, he offers frequent and detailed advice, starting with the drafting of a business plan and continuing through the startup process.

Many entrepreneurs, for instance, have a great idea but can't get it funded. It takes a more business-minded partner to tell them they have to ask for money in tranches in order to prove to investors they can manage it well, he said.

In Mr. Duclair's case, Mr. Herschell even accompanied him on visits to the bank, to guide his client through the process and to negotiate.

"Entrepreneurs can be very passionate about what they're doing, but investors want to know someone's keeping an eye on them," Mr. Herschell said.

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