Picking Your Partner, It’s More Than a Hunch!
So you’ve just decided to take action on a new start-up, one that you’re passionate about and see huge potential with. The workload will be huge, so the most logical decision is to find a co-founder to share this idea, but more importantly this journey, one who you can work with to bring the idea into reality. It’s the most logical decision, the workload will be less and it will be far more productive than embarking on this journey alone.
However, finding the right person is a challenge. Most start-ups don’t fail because of a flawed idea, but instead because of internal disputes – largely between co-founders. This can be overwhelming, and a lot of independent ‘go-getters’ could easily decide they would rather tackle this alone, as would anyone wanting to protect their vision. Thus, before breaking down what you should be aware of when seeking a co-founder, it’s important to understand why finding a business partner is the best decision.
Hard truths hit best. So, on that note. You can’t do everything.
Sure, you can try. But the reality of learning new skills, managing people, and also trying to get an idea off the ground, is not easy. A co-founder will not only allow you to balance the tasks ahead but also (if chosen correctly) have their very own set of skills that offer great utility. Complementary skills create a more efficient work environment and one that progresses forward in a synergistic fashion. On an economic note, investors are far more likely to fund a company that is run by an effective team, rather than one run by a passionate individual. Two or more people who work together that have a constant feedback loop can reach a level of stability and self-awareness that is hard to achieve in solitude – don’t underestimate the diversity of thought. More perspectives restrain the temptation of tunnel vision, which in turn allows for a much more prudent approach to business, and therefore lowers execution risks. So… How do you pick the right one? There are many common mistakes people make when seeking out a co-founder. Here are the traits you should keep an eye out for on your search.
Find someone who complements your skills.
Say you’ve just met someone who thinks the same as you and has the same skills? Great! But only if your intention is to make a new connection. It may feel good to always be in a state of agreement – but what of the necessary contention and discourse that leads to the penultimate solutions you will inevitably need to ideate in the world of entrepreneurship. As mentioned before, a huge bonus that having a co-founder offers is the ability to share the load. If your co-founder can comfortably take onboard tasks that would take you triple the time, but them half,
you’re already on the right track. If the start-up blends the food industry and an app, and you’re a qualified chef, keep an eye out for someone who brings along the hard technical skills.
Look at how they manage stress.
There will be peaks and troughs with any business venture. Start-ups are inherently stressful, so you want to be working alongside someone who can remain level headed and handle the pressure. If emotions are running high within a company, it is more than likely flaws will emerge which investors and customers will notice later down the track. Following on from this, you also want to consider how they can help you manage stress. Someone who is competent both intellectually and emotionally will be able to notice if your attitude changes and respond appropriately, potentially alleviating stress.
Sometimes the best match isn’t a personality match.
Similar to point #1, you want someone who not only has different skills, but also a different outlook. If you consider yourself a type A person (proactive, organized, concerned with time management), try and seek out a type B individual (relaxed, creative, empathetic). This will allow the start-up to foster a ‘Ying and Yang’ environment, where each person is taking on board ideas and attitudes that the other brings to the table, things that a single person wouldn’t come up with on their own. Entrepreneurs are high in trait openness, and actually share a personality make – up very similar to that of an artist (if you think long and hard about this, it makes sense). Bearing this in mind an ideal partner would be someone with organisational ability and a managerial mindset.
Be critical of yourself before you’re critical of others.
Self-awareness is one of the best skills you can have in any field of life. Be aware of your own flaws before you bring another person on board. If you’re feeling comfortable, address these in the early stages in order to mitigate any tension that may arise due to a fault of your own. If you never think you are in the wrong, there is a high chance you will subconsciously place blame on other people when issues arise. Lack of self-awareness also limits the amount of open communication occurring. On the flip side, look for someone who also has the ability to acknowledge their weaknesses and actively work on them.
Find someone you get along with, even if it takes time.
This might sound like the obvious, but if you are too focused on getting your idea off the ground then you might jump on the first person who pops up. Take time to understand someone before giving the go-ahead, and if you find you aren’t a match after this time, don’t be afraid to get rid of them. The art of hiring and firing people is one you will need to master over the course of your start-up, so try and get it right during the foundational steps. There can be nothing worse than despising your business partner, but being beholden to the fact they own equity in your vision.