Building a solid team is an essential first step to success for startups. According to experts, without one, a business idea will remain a mere idea. In fact, having the wrong founding team is one of the top reasons why companies fail. This is especially the case at the earliest stages of trying to build a company.
However, finding the right co-founder for a startup can be a long and complicated process. This is because there are many things that entrepreneurs or founders need to consider when trying to decide who to start a company with. Many factors go into trying to find the perfect person to go on an entrepreneurial journey with. This includes everything from looking for individuals with the right skills set, compatibility, and personality to making sure that the partnership will last in the long run.
Before finding the perfect co-founder, we need to understand the difference between the role of a founder and a co-founder. According to startup experts, a founder is a person who has started a company with little to no support. In other words, this person has begun operations and early execution on their own before getting other people on board. When a founder decides to hire people, that team works under them and no one else shares the equity.
A founding team can be made up of anywhere between 2-10 people who work together and complement each others’ roles. The main idea behind building a founding team is to validate the different elements of the company. This includes everything from the plan to the products or services. It’s important to validate these aspects of your business before the marketing and sales process is done.
Why do you need a co-founder?
Some entrepreneurs may ask why they need a co-founder for their startup. The simple answer is that as a solo entrepreneur you may have a hard time bringing success to your startup. This means that you will need the help of skilled individuals who can manage different operations of the company. While one founder may be good at marketing, another may be good at product development. These complementary skills are necessary for a company to produce and market a product or service successfully.
So you’ve answered the initial question of whether you need a co-founder. The next question is generally when the best time time is to find one. The answer is that there is no fixed time for you to start looking for an experienced business partner. It all depends on your needs and wants. You might believe the best time is during the ideation stage. Or maybe you believe the best time is when your product or service is out on the market and looking to expand. It is entirely up to you to decide when the best time for you is.
What To Look For In A Co-Founder
Before you begin the hunt for the perfect co-founder, you need to start by evaluating yourself. First you need to find the things that you are good at and can keep on doing. During this process, you need to be brutally honest with yourself and confront your weaknesses. Once you have been able to identify your strengths and weaknesses, you can find someone who complements your skills. As you go into the process, the right mindset is necessary when trying to find the perfect co-founder. Initially, you should spend as much time as possible talking about your ideas with people. Only then will you be able to see whether there is someone in the same field who can add value to your vision. You can also assess whether this person is interested in working with you and whether you have the right chemistry.
Some traits to look for when searching for a co-founder are:
1) Someone who mitigates risk
First and foremost, a good co-founder knows how to mitigate risks and has good crisis management skills. Investors are always looking for tenacious and responsible co-founders. For this reason, entrepreneurs should find someone who takes ownership of the startup and is comfortable speaking openly about their personal flaws. Additionally, it is preferable to try and find co-founders with diverse backgrounds. As a result, you should not just focus on a particular area of expertise. Instead, you should look for the ideal co-founder with a track record of success in a range of industries.
2) Someone who helps build
While the purpose of finding a co-founder may be to get help running your business, a co-founder is not just another employee. Co-founders are people who bring new elements to a business. They are also bold enough to inspire new ideas and pinpoint potential shortcomings in the current startup.
3) Someone who presents a new perspective
Another reason to hire a co-founder is to see your startup and products or services from a different angle. In some cases, startup founders cannot find flaws in their products because they have a specific bias towards them. Sometimes, it just does not occur to you that you could have taken a better approach when creating your product. As a result, you might find that you need a pair of fresh eyes to give you a new perspective on how to improve your products.
4) Someone who can help you multi-task
There are many different responsibilities in a company. One person may need to attend a meeting. Another might need to go to an interview. Co-founders exist so that different people can hold additional responsibilities. By sharing the responsibilities of running a business with someone else, you’ll have higher chances of running the business efficiently.
5) Someone with the same vision and values
While having a shared vision and set of values may not seem fundamental when trying to find a co-founder. Having someone who sees the world the same way you do is crucial to the success of your business. Co-founders need to agree on a work style, how to treat employees, and how to run the company as a whole. It is also important to have corresponding ideas on where the company is going and find ways to solve differences. Even though it may be difficult to define a clear vision initially, doing this is crucial to get an understanding from the very start of the process.
6) Someone who can be trusted
Besides balancing personality traits, it is also essential to find a partner who you can trust. Running a business may present ample opportunities for people to do dishonest things. Co-founders can act in ways that can cause others to question the ethics of your company or permanently damage the company’s reputation. So, when looking for a co-founder, it is essential to remember to find someone trustworthy who can handle responsibility.
How to Find A Co-Founder
Now that we understand what makes a perfect co-founder let us look at some ways of finding one. As mentioned in the previous section, just as startups should mix different skill sets. They should also do the same for personality traits. For example, having two people who are afraid of speaking in public will not benefit a startup in the slightest. After all, co-founders are more than likely to be put in front of investors, clients, accelerators, and more. Therefore, if one co-founder is shy, it is best to have another person who is more outgoing and has the confidence to speak in front of people.
Let us now look at some places where you can look for your perfect teammate.
1) Personal contacts
Firstly, you can start looking for co-founders within your contacts. For example, you could have a colleague or a friend from school who always had an entrepreneurial spirit. You should also look within your extended network or start a joint venture with an active investor who might be interested in bringing in money. The whole process begins with pitching your idea. After all, no one will know what type of person you are looking for or what kind of help you want unless you brief them with the details. Additionally, you can reach out to team leads and managers. These people might know someone who could be a great fit as a co-founder.
2) Co-founder matchmaking sites
Dating and finding a co-founder have a lot in common, given that one of the essential qualities in the ideal partnership is trust. After all, you need trust to build any relationship. In a speed dating event, people sit down with many potential romantic partners for just a few short minutes and see if they can quickly connect with the other person. The same thing happens in professional networking events. A founder’s job is to pitch their idea to others and see how they react. The end goal is to leave the event with a list of people you would like to continue talking to. This way, you can explore building a potential partnership with these people.
Another way to achieve this is through crowdfunding websites where you can easily find people who are interested in your business idea. You should think of matchmaking apps and sites as a starting point for a startup co-founder hunt. Once you have some candidates, you can conduct your interviews in person, over the phone, or on Skype to get to know them better.
3) Social media groups
You can also search for co-founders on social media groups that are related to startups. There are plenty of experts in these groups who are ready and willing to be part of a startup and lend their services in exchange for equity. However, as with matchmaking sites, you need to be aware that there are many potential scammers on such groups. For this reason, you need to be thorough when choosing the right person before making any agreements.
4) Startup events and conference
As with matchmaking events, networking events present valuable opportunities for founders who are hunting for their perfect co-founder. Even if the focus is not specifically on finding a co-founder, meeting other entrepreneurs in a startup-focused environment is a great chance to get involved in the landscape and make connections that could lead to finding a co-founder down the line.
5) Job listing platforms
Last but not least, another way to find a co-founder is by advertising the position on job listing platforms. It is important to note that some job listing platforms may not accept job posts without stated pay. Nevertheless, with so many platforms out there, you should be able to find plenty to post your vacancy on.
Finding the right co-founder can be one of the most challenging steps to founding a startup and this task should not be taken lightly. During the search process, it is crucial not to offer potential candidates more than you can deliver. Some founders may often want to rush to market because they have an idea that no one has launched. Before you do that, you need to take the appropriate time to build a winning team which will give your startup a better shot at success.
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