Being an entrepreneur is all about making big decisions. Your success depends on making the right choices, at the right times. One of the most important decisions you’ll make when forming a startup is who your co-founder (or co-founders) will be.
In many ways, choosing your startup co-founder is on a par with choosing your life partner – the person you want to marry. For as long as your company is in existence, your business partner will be an intrinsic part of your life.
You’ll not only spend a lot of time together, you’ll also need to make some highly pressurized decisions, in potentially less than ideal circumstances.
What to consider when choosing a startup co-founder
Just like a happily married couple neatly fit together as a unit, so do two or more co-founders of a company. This doesn’t mean founders have to be similar in personality styles. Nor will they always agree on issues or never have an argument. What it means is that the relationship will have a strong foundation to allow for differences without falling apart.
As well as personality issues, it’s also imperative to select the right co-founder for the particular products being created as well as the market and the precise resources and skills needed to meet with success.
With all this in mind, here are 5 things to consider when choosing your startup co-founder(s).
- Understand what your business needs to do
It might seem obvious, but the first question you need to answer is what exactly is your startup business all about. Having a full understanding of the type of things that need to be done, to what scope, to which audiences, and in what timeframes, will help you to pick a business partner who is the right match.
If you’re an app developer, for example, then you know you have the software development and user interface designing covered. But if you’re developing an app for the medical industry, then finding a co-founder with experience of regulatory approval and clinical trials might be a big boon.
(See also: Importance of developing a business strategy)
- Figure out how many co-founders you need
When you read the word “co-founder” it’s easy to imagine two people. Yet many startups contain three or more founders. Having too many co-founders can potentially be an issue but as long as you do whatever your business needs then you probably won’t go too far wrong.
By knowing what exactly your business needs to succeed, you’ll be in a better place to figure out the human resources needed to achieve growth. This will include hiring co-founders with complementing skillsets. You’ll have a clearer picture of whether you need two, three, or four co-founders, based on crucial knowledge, experience, and skills that might currently be missing.
- Consider a timeline of skills
When choosing co-founders for your start-up, it’s also wise to consider a timeline of skills. Some skills and processes will be timeless, in that they will always be needed, no matter how successful your business becomes.
Other skills will be needed early on in a business venture to give it a strong growth trajectory. However, later, they might become redundant. On the flip side, some skills and knowledge requirements can be delayed for a while until later stages.
You need to decide whether to choose co-founders based on evergreen skills which can be carried far into the future, or to accept they may take on different roles later … or potentially leave.
- Know your outsourcing options
When it comes to less-than-vital skills in the present, and potentially essential ones for the future, it’s worth considering finding good quality outsource partners. These include experienced freelancers who can take certain jobs and tasks out of your hands, thereby doing away with the need to hire yet another co-founder.
It’s important to always remember, a co-founder is someone utterly essential to your new company’s business strategy and success. If you can find outsourcing partners who can do certain tasks and jobs that meet your standards, then a co-founder with many of those exact skills might be superfluous to requirements.
There are freelance professionals in many different sectors including copywriters, blog writers, designers, web developers, virtual assistants, marketing pros, bookkeepers, accountants, business coaches, and many more. Freelancers and other types of solopreneur can be long-term essential allies in making your startup a great success.
It’s important to choose wisely, as it is with your potential co-founders.
- Measure the human connection
Perhaps the most important consideration to bear in mind when choosing fellow company founders is the human element. You really do need to get on with your co-founder(s). The more natural synergy and trust between founder members, the better.
You don’t need to be best buddies but as long as you can engage in tough conversations with respect, thoroughness, and a beneficial outcome, then that’s a positive sign. Bickering and tension early on in an entrepreneurial endeavor signals potential disaster once you have invested a lot more into your company.
It’s vital to know very early on whether you complement one another, both in professional skills and knowledge as well as emotionally and intellectually. To have a similar work ethic, professional drive, communicative openness, and emotional intelligence, are so important.
Choosing your co-founder
As you might have picked up, choosing a startup co-founder is a lot like choosing a spouse. Many of the same essential personality traits and relationship dynamics are required in a trusted business partnership as they are in a romantic partnership.
With so much money, effort, resources, risk, and time needed to build a successful business, your co-founder(s) need to be a positive influence on your business, and not a negative drawback.
Never settle for second best. Don’t just automatically choose your best friends. Choose your fellow founders wisely, even if it means looking over a childhood buddy for someone more in-tune with your project and style of working.