After coming up with an idea for a company, it is important to consider having a partner. Going alone isn’t bad at all if you are good at both skill-sets of building and selling, it works too. However, if you decide to get a partner who brings in a complimentary skill set that you lack, there are several things to consider before settling on that co-founder. Here are the traits to consider when you select co-founder.
- Complementary Skills
Look to the future of the business when you consider complementary skills. You don’t want your cofounder to be a replica of yourself. One model for choosing a cofounder is the “one builds, one sells” approach. If you have two cofounders, one of the cofounders is responsible for building the product and the other cofounder is responsible for selling the product. This complementary approach is a perfect model for many startups. In non-skillset areas, you may share similarities with your cofounder. But when it comes to the work that you’re doing together, it’s better to have an array of skills rather than a concentration of skills.
Look for somebody who likes to do what you don’t and is really good at what you’re not. You want a co-founder who brings everything you’re missing to the table so as a team, you’re the complete package. It’s great to have shared skill sets too, but you want to make sure all the important skill sets are there between the two of you.
- Eagerness to Learn
A perfect co-founder is one who recognizes that he or she has a lot more to learn. A good cofounder isn’t someone who has life figured out. Experience is a great teacher. People best suited for the startup life are those who want to learn more. This recognition that the individual doesn’t have it all figured out, coupled with a willingness to learn, will greatly contribute to growth in the right direction.
The concept of constant improvement is a strong value to have in co-founders. The people best suited for startup life are the ones ready to learn more and take the business beyond what either thought was possible. In any startup, you’re going to learn. A lot. The more you learn, the more you’ll grow — personally and in business as well.
The ideal co-founder is someone as passionate as you are (or even more than you are) about the idea and problems you are solving in the society through your company. While you’ll develop the necessary skills, connections and experience by working in the startup, passion is not something that can be manufactured. It takes a lot of dedication to push past the mistakes and pivots necessary in a new company, and without passion for the business, it is easy to lose sight of your goals. This is even more critical with a co-founder because if you feel that your partner has lost interest and is already looking for another business or challenge, then it can sink the company even faster.
Passion is the only thing that will keep you and your co-founder going when business gets tough. When you start the company and get a co-founder who only wants to build the company because it is an avenue to wealth, the difficult days will get extremely rocky and impossible to beat. A co-founder who brings a financial investment is terrific — and might be the one thing you need to get a startup off the ground. But, even more important — and hard to find — is a co-founder who recognizes your drive, mission and passion, and shares it.You’re starting a business for a reason, and uniting over a common interest is a typical way for all the founders to come together.
- Integrity and honesty
Find someone who is honest. Communicate up-front that there is an expectation for 100 percent honesty at all times — no exceptions. Remember, finding the right partner isn’t just about skills: It’s also about character. When you’re involved at the ownership level, there are so many ways for money to disappear and for people to be dishonest. Even beyond cash, there are things a person can do that might call the ethics and morals of a company into question. Those things don’t have to be illegal to permanently damage your business, either.
When you are away from the company at any point, having a co-founder you can entrust the business with while you are away will give you peace of mind. This co-founder will carry out your tasks and responsibilities without any kind of dishonesty, and that is key to a startup’s success.
Having a business partner who is able to think on his feet and adapt to changing situations is critical. In any new business, you’re likely to encounter a fair number of surprises, so find someone who won’t sweat the small stuff and can be flexible when the going gets rough and tough decisions need to be made.
You also want to find a co-founder who isn’t above handling the small tasks that need to be dealt with. This person should have the drive to push the company forward, but the humility to know that sometimes there’ll be a need to answer phones and empty garbage cans — and to smile while doing those tasks.
- Independent Thinker & Communicative
Sometimes as a founder you might make a wrong decision, you need a co-founder that always thinks independently. When you both discuss decisions to take, the co-founder will open your eyes to a whole new way of approaching the problem at hand.Co-founders different perspective bound to be one that will act as a plan B in case the main course of action fails. Additionally, when you are away from the company and a decision needs to be made, the co-founder as an independent thinker must be able to make the best decision for the company without being influenced by external sources.
Most partnerships fail due to miscommunication. It is important that a co-founder communicates with you in case of anything. When they will not make it for a meeting they should communicate early so that you can plan otherwise. When they are going through a difficult time that’s affecting their work you should know too. As they deal with clients and the team, communication will be very critical for growth.
- Emotional Stability & Conflict Handling
Emotional stability involves the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Every owner needs to be able to maintain her cool in the face of the rough times that are common in the startup environment. Getting angry with vendors and customers or falling apart under the weight of stress is detrimental to business. Such habits can destroy relationships and send employees running. Having success as a startup relies on an owner’s ability to stay calm and not collapse under pressure.
Disagreements are bound to happen through your partnership. Most conflicts usually end in compromise for both parties. When the co-founder is okay with conflict it means that they know conflict encourages growth and change in perceptions, knowledge, systems and ideals. They should also speak up when they feel something is not right without being disrespectful.
- Shared Vision & Core Values
Mutual values and vision are difficult to identify, but crucial for compatibility. Before you commit to a partnership, make sure you and your potential partner are on the same page as far as the vision of the company and the values you hold. The ability to have a long-term vision and approach to a startup is essential for its ability to survive the ups and downs. If the co-founder has the ability to see well into the future while executing against the day-to-day objectives, the business has a strong chance of not only succeeding, but scaling exponentially.
You and your cofounder should both want the same thing. Whether your desire is to someday sell the business, become rich and famous, overtake Facebook or colonize Mars , you must both possess a shared goal. Everything changes except character. Product ideas, market dynamics and even founder competencies morph over time. Character (what someone deeply values) changes at a comparatively infinitesimal pace. Diversity of gender, age and training can lead to higher team performance. In contrast, a divergence of values makes almost every ingredient of team performance harder to grasp. For example, agreeing on objectives becomes massively harder if two co-founders value different objectives.
- Team player & Mutual Motivator
A co-founder should be a team player. They should motivate the team or work peacefully with the team. They are an example to the team at every single point. They should know how to lead discussions, work, etc., as well as roll-up their sleeves and work with the team too. Find a team player who is willing to take the lead. In contrast, your co-founder should also know when to roll up their sleeves. Great leaders know they are only as good as their team. They also understand it pays to hangout with smart people. Let your team put their strengths and individual traits to work.
You should feel motivated after talking with your potential co-founder. If not, they are not the right fit. For example, my co-founder fanned the flames of my motivation and pursuit. There will be startup challenges — the honeymoon period will end — but the impact co-founders on each other can serve as the necessary spark to reignite passion and move forward. Ask yourself: Will this person be able to take the reins, help you shift focus, or simply offer encouragement?