How to Find a Co-Founder for Your Startup
Having a good co-founder with a similar vision can help drive your business. Having a partner who brings their skills, experience, drive and knowledge to your business can relieve some of the burdens you face as a founder.
But having just one partner doesn’t solve all your problems. It’s important to find the right person to help your business grow. A good co-founder should share your commitment and vision. However, your co-founder needs to be different from you in other areas and challenge you to grow.
Before you go looking for someone to help you run the business, you need to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for in a co-founder. Just because someone is interested in your idea, doesn’t mean they’re right for your startup.
While there are plenty of reasons why it’s better to run your company alone, having a co-founder has great value.
Make a list of friends who might be a good fit
One of the first places to look for a co-founder is in your personal circle. This means friends, work buddies and other people you associate with Starting a business with friends Can be very useful.
When your co-founder is also your friend, you already have an established relationship. Friendship should have created a certain level of trust. This belief can be transferred to business relationships.
Getting to know your co-founder’s work ethic, tendencies, and temperament is something that happens over time. However, if you’ve been friends or worked with your potential co-founder for years, you speed up the learning process.
But there are challenges when your co-founder is also your friend. Going to do business with a friend Can also strain friendships. Sometimes co-founders don’t see eye-to-eye on the direction of the company or its processes. When you go into business with a friend, these disagreements can damage the relationship over time.
If you’re going to choose a friend as a co-founder, be sure to nurture your personal relationship. Creating boundaries between personal and professional relationships is also important. This includes protecting yourself before going into business with friends by signing contracts and establishing clear roles.
Search for a person whose skills contrast, but complement yours
Do you need a good business partner or, in this case, a co-founder to make your joint venture work well? Simply put, he needs what you don’t have. People with complementary personalities and skills make a good partnership.
Someone who fills the gaps in your experience and skill set while challenging your opinions and offering a different perspective can be an ideal co-founder and business partner. Ideally, your partner should not confirm your vision. Instead, they should expand and complement it.
This type of business relationship is sometimes a double-edged sword. But, if you and your co-founder can find a way to balance and work together, the results can exceed your expectations.
It is not always easy to find a person who can contrast and admire you. Be sure to spend time with people you think are good candidates. Get to know them on a personal level, and get to know their thought processes and habits.
You and your partner need to share a vision, values, and principles about how your firm operates. You should aim for the same goal and have the same objective and end goal, even if your approach is different.
Use co-founder networking sites
Platforms like LinkedIn are a good place to start, but micro-niche online communities and other social media websites can be equally efficient. Several sites now offer opportunities to meet co-founders around the world.
Here are some of the top co-founder search sites:
Finding a co-founder online requires you to clarify your objectives and present your ideas in a concise, yet comprehensive manner. It all depends on how you present yourself and your business.
While the sites above specialize in matching founders together, don’t neglect your other social media platforms. Let your circle of influence know you’re looking for a co-founder on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites.
Change and improve your social media (especially LinkedIn) profiles and try to get your name out there, introducing yourself to people in your industry.
Search for former contestants
You may be able to make a great addition to your founding team by looking at your competition. Sometimes, those other business leaders, engineers and salespeople are a good source that you can tap to build your co-founding team.
The founders of KnowEm.com, Michael Starko and Barry Wise, met competitors when they tried to dominate the same SEO term.
Former competitors often understand where you are and what needs to be done to move your business forward.
But would a competitor switch sides to join a new, unproven startup? This happens more often than you might think. In 2012, PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Elon Musk backed a competing payment processing startup called Stripe.
There may be different businesses that you have had, currently have, or are going to compete with. Look at past members of startups that are in your niche and possibly your competition. Start researching people who might be a good fit for your startup and you may find your perfect match.
Date before your wedding
It’s tempting to think that the person you’ve found is going to be a good addition because they have the passion, like-mindedness, and even experience to take your startup to the next level. But it doesn’t work that way either. That is known 70% of all business partnerships fail.
A co-founding relationship is just that; A relationship. And just like any relationship, it’s best to take things slow and “date” before you commit. Your business partnership may last for several years. The best approach is to take the time to learn each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and leadership styles. There are a few ways you can “date” your potential co-founders before you start the startup matrimony.
First, you might consider partnering on small business projects together. Many engineers will work for a visionary founder on a contract or freelance basis. This gives each person a chance to work together to see if there is synergy and if both people can lead a project to success.
Learn to argue with your candidates
Another way to judge your potential co-founder is to argue. Jessica Alter, who co-founded FounderDating, advises the Harvard Business Review that how co-founders fare is a key metric in predicting the success of a founding team. It’s probably not a good idea to start an argument unnecessarily, but it’s wise not to run away from a conflict.
You and your co-founding candidate should review conflict resolution strategies and have an action plan that can be implemented if a disagreement occurs. Learning to argue the right way will come in handy later if the stresses and strains of business spill over and cause more serious conflicts.
A team is often stronger than an individual. But just having a team and co-founders doesn’t guarantee success. Use these tips to find the right person to take your business to the next level
This article was originally published in April 2016 but has been expanded and updated
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