Small-business investors need to be able to successfully balance instincts with knowledge, and this week, the candidates vying to become Marcus Lemonis' partner have the chance to prove their savvy in both areas.
"Go into a business," the host instructs the four remaining contestants on CNBC's "The Partner," "as if you were me and somebody was asking for help."
Lemonis highlights three key strategies that are essential for his potential partner, or anyone looking make smarter investments, to master.
1. Make connections
Lemonis says that getting to know the people you'll be working with is more important than any other element of forming a partnership.
"The most important thing is if you don't relate to the business owner and create a connection with them, you're never really going to get the true answers," says Lemonis, "because they'll always have their guard up."
Former Google exec and CEO-coach Kim Scott says this strategy extends to other business relationships as well. In her book "Radical Candor," Scott argues that truly great bosses get to know their employees on a human level, and not just as professionals.
Contestant Erin Cobb struggles with this, opening with a series of detailed queries delivered rapid-fire and with little enthusiasm.
"His questions are so fast and so furious it's almost like he's trying to trip me up, instead of open me up," Lemonis observes.
2. Take the time to learn about the business
Not all of the candidates are familiar with the fashion industry, which makes it difficult for them to assess the boutique they visit with Lemonis. But an investor has to take the time to get to know a business, regardless of their comfort level.
Though Peilin Pratt excels at the more structured parts of learning the business, she falters when trying to connect with Lemonis as a business owner and understand what makes the company's concept work.
"Where I think she's lacking," he says, "is her ability to warm up to the environment, and her ability to connect with people, particularly in an industry or a business she's not familiar with."
3. Don't neglect the details
Once you've connected with a business owner and learned more about their company, Lemonis stresses the importance of digging deeper to learn more about the company's vision and challenges.
Juli Reed built a quick a connection with Lemonis, earning praise for her keen attention to the store's merchandise. She asked a series of strong questions focused on product, her area of expertise.
But her other questions about the business were vague, and she failed to uncover the details necessary to make a strategic investment.
"I didn't feel like she addressed the real issues, the financials," said Lemonis. "I don't know that she's going to have the full picture to be able to make that really sharp decision."
Video by Brandon Ancil