How to Find the Right Co-founder
When embarking on a new business venture it’s often worth bringing on a co-founder. Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft all had key figureheads — think Zuckerberg, Jobs, and Gates— but all these start-ups were collective efforts. And no wonder. A partner is not only a great sounding board for ideas, they can bring strengths, contacts, and expertise to the table that you may lack. A second pair of hands, eyes, and ears when the going gets tough is nothing to sniff at either. Institutional investors recognize the importance of a strong core team: a start-up is often required to have more than one founder before even becoming eligible for funding.
But finding a co-founder isn’t a decision you should take lightly.
A strong partner is invaluable, but a falling out at the top can cripple a young business. 23% of unsuccessful startups cite not having the right team as their reason for failure.
So, how do you find your perfect match?
1. Know Your Strengths & Weaknesses 💪
Just like dating, when looking for a co-founder you should search for someone who can come close to completing you. Together you should be able to do more than apart. This means finding someone with complementary skillsets to yours. For that to happen you must know your weaknesses and strengths. Be honest– when do you doubt yourself? Which aspects of business do you find most challenging? If you are all about the ideas, for example, you should look to find a co-founder with an eye for detail.
2. Network, Connect & Reach-out 🌍
Having a best friend or family member as your co-founder can put a lot of unwelcome strain on a relationship, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leverage those connections. Seek advice from experienced friends or colleagues. Someone they trust and respect is worth getting to know. You might also consider reconnecting with colleagues you have previously enjoyed working with (or were impressed by) and gauge their interest. If you’ve seen someone in action it takes a lot of the uncertainty out of the process.
But although already established connections and recommendations are often good places to start, it’s still a small pool to draw from. Sites such as Y Combinator, StartHawk and CoFoundersLab can be great resources for meeting new people seeking business ventures.
3. Positive Vibes Only 👊
No matter what amazing skills your co-founder may have, they shouldn’t be someone who drains you. Remember you’re going to have to see them almost every day for years on end. You want to be motivated and boosted by working with them and produce better ideas together than alone. Great chemistry is key to a successful business partnership and a fun venture.
4. Patience is a Virtue. ⌛️
Just as it’s probably best not to tie the knot until you’ve tried living with someone, you shouldn’t rush into co-founding with someone you don’t know well enough. You need to know their quirks, and also how they cope when things get tough. Running a startup is intense and often chaotic, so you want to have someone on board who can handle stress well and keeps you calm too. Tread carefully. Your co-founder should understand how important this sounding-out period is and appreciate your thoroughness.
5. Be Honest, Loyal and Trustworthy 🤝
The best relationships are founded on honesty, so you should be transparent about your goals and methods when looking for a co-founder. Don’t hesitate to jump in and ask difficult questions. What are their desired working hours? Do they want to take a salary? Where do they aspire to take the business? You should also both be straight up about your financial situation. You don’t want ugly truths to come out when the going gets tough.