Finding Perfect Co-founder For Your Startup

Over the past few years of my entrepreneurial journey, I have come across many solo entrepreneurs looking out for their “other half“! The fact that the journey of an entrepreneur is not an easy one to withstand, if you happen to decide to go on all alone; makes it more than necessary to team it up.

Finding your perfect co-founder would go on to become the second-most important relationship of your life, may be first-most important relationship, depends on how you maintain a work-life balance. As Paul Graham, a Y Combinator partner, said back in 2005, “What matters is not ideas, but the people who have them. Good people can fix bad ideas, but good ideas can’t save bad people.”

There may be serial entrepreneurs with good ideas (ideas are dime a dozen, right?), but none is going to fall into place with perfect teaming up. Partnering up with family and friends is considered not too good in the business world, but that’s just what worked out perfectly for me! There’s no rules, keep your rules flexible and keep tweaking till you hit your success formula.

Now, there may be many ways in tackling the situation. One of the most resorted to is the “founder dating”. Thanks to the popularity of online dating and networking, there is no shortage of founder-matching services on the internet, but that’s just a starting point, there’s a long journey ahead of you. There are many factors to which you can consider on partnering with someone. Things like interests, passion, trust, complimenting skills, etc matter while finding your perfect teammate.

How to Find Perfect Business Partner & never Look back

Let’s look into the factors to consider and re-consider while partnering with someone you know well, or a complete unknown, for your next venture.

Complimentary skill-set

Your ideal co-founder is the one who perfectly compliments your skills and talents. You don’t need two people to do the same thing. Write down all  the tasks you are good at, what you expect from your company, and what your co-founder will bring to the table.

One of the biggest mistake which we do while selecting the business partner is by picking someone with similar skills set, and it creates problem in long run. Your perfect co-founder should compliment your skills and fill the void gaps in your company. The formula for a successful partnering? ‘One builds, One sells’. What is the use of building all those, if you can’t sell it? Something to ponder upon. If you are the one builds, find someone who will ge it into the hands of people and vice-versa. Lookout for “sales” traps over here!

Past partnerships

Past partnership could also have a huge say while partnering for a new venture. Your past track record working together could be the safest bet for teaming up. The longer you have worked together before for a project, the better it could work out this time out. You wouldn’t marry someone whom you met for the first time. Go on multiple dates, dates here in the sense, means multiple projects. Work together on something small first and see how it works out. Low risk, and you get a rapport with them, then you could decide to continue or move on.

Bonus tip: One of the best tip I have read while selecting life partner is by travelling with him/her to an unknown destination. This way both of you will be in not so comfortable situation and will be seeing everything new for the first time. This one tip you can also apply with your possible business-partner, as this will help you and your partner to understand each other inter-personal skills, which is very important in the long run.

Risk-Taking profile

Don’t partner with someone who looks at the business world with his rose-tinted glasses. Everything is not as pretty as it seems. Many businesses go bankrupt everyday and yours might be the next. The risks are high and so are the expectations, a tough call!

If your co-founder is the one that hits the panic button at the slightest hint of a fall, forget him. You need a one who is willing to take risks and bear with the consequences of his actions. An optimist who understands how to deal with the consequences whatsoever, is your right man. His past track of risks could give you an idea of his difficult situation handling abilities. You don’t want someone who keeps on nagging you even before the ship sinks, instead of thinking on backup action.

Power of Two

This is no secret success number for a team, but three’s a crowd, if you ask me. Yes, you might go on to argue that three’s the perfect number: “Hacker-Hustler-Designer”, but I’ll tell you what, a perfect co-founding team of two people who meet the previous mentioned criteria’s would be an ideal solution.

I am not asserting that what worked out for someone will definitely work out for you, but I’m just about to bombard you with the famous “Two people partnering to form a legend” story: “Larry Page and Sergey Brin“(Google), “Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak“(Apple), “Evan Williams and Biz Stone“(Twitter), “Bill Gates and Paul Allen“(Microsoft), “Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard“(HP), “Gordon Moore and Bob Nyce“(Intel), and the list goes on. Do read 5 remarkable tech entrepreneur you must know of.

There may be people who work against all these odds, well, hello Mark Zuckerberg, four co-founders! Try and avoid the three-body co-founder troubles. 4-5 Co-founders a right away NO! When four or five co-founders works out, it is primarily because of the efforts of the two best of them. Two is a perfect number for aligning your personalities, interests, avoiding politics and the path with least hassles. Two is the number!

Intelligence, Integrity

If you ask me what do you look for in a co-founder? Well, Intelligence, Integrity, Humility, Energy, Passion, Creativity, and I could go on forever. But that doesn’t matter. What I consider the most important for a co-founder  to possess? Two Words – Intelligence & Integrity!

You can tell about the integrity of a person by the way he talks about others to you, he might go the same way with you. If your partner is willing to lie to others’, cheat them, disrespect them, he may even go the same way with you. Think about your business’ reputation if you have to face any foolish acts on his end. You want someone who shares your values and has a major part of your trust.

For inspiration: 15 Eye-opening business quotes by Warren Buffet

Personality types

Finally, personality match with your partner is the secret for a successful long-term partnership. You need to seriously enjoy what you do with your business partner. If you can’t even get along, how would you manage to take important decisions, motivate each other and work long hours?

Your ideal co-founder is the one with whom you could easily get along with. The one around whom you can be open-minded, trust them, respect them, and most importantly, enjoy time with, is your perfect co-founder.

Care to research more about personality types to get a grip on the human psychology. I have taken classes on human psychology in my part-time, and let me tell you, you will learn to see others in a completely different perspective.

Warning: Breakups ahead

Don’t expect to make your first partnership a big hit, if it does happen, congratulations on that one! But in many cases its just a result of many failures and bad partnerships. Whatever the case, be ready to learn and let go. Learn from your mistakes, leave it behind and get started again real quick. Do not repeat the mistakes you did in choosing your previous co-founder and do not fear to pair up again!

Don’t let a failed partnership dishearten you on your mission. Move on, there’s better ahead.

But: Do you really need a co-founder?

This is one of the most important question to ponder upon, before planning to pair up with someone for a new venture. Do you really need someone to partner with for your startup? Can’t you do it without someone else? I am talking about the starting up. You can scale later by hiring people to do the tasks you shouldn’t worry much about.

You can outsource the work and tasks and concentrate on the most important part of your company, to scale! Answer yourself to this question first: “Do I really need a co-founder? Can’t I start it up without [BLANK]?”. If you can do it alone, do it alone, no one to answer to. And, by the way, who else knows you better than yourself?

Now, to finish it off, here’s a tad philosophical thought:

‘Your co-founder is much more than the one who is on the receiving end of the checks you write.’

– Srikanth AN

So, how about you? How has partnerships worked out for you? Shout out your experiences with co-founders below. Do share this finding co-founder guide with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

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