Having a good co-founder with the same vision may help drive your business. Having a partner that brings their skills, experience, drive, and knowledge to your business can relieve some of the burdens you face as a founder.
But just having a partner doesn’t solve all of your problems. It is important to find the right person to help propel your business. A good co-founder should share your commitment and vision. However, your co-founder should also be different than 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 are looking for in a co-founder. Just because someone is interested in your idea, doesn’t necessarily mean they are right for your startup.
Even though there are plenty of reasons why it is better to run your company alone, there is great value in having a co-founder.
Create a List of Friends that May Be a Good Fit
One of the first places to look for a co-founder is within your personal circle. This means friends, work friends, and other people whom you have associated with. Starting a business with friends can be extremely beneficial.
When your co-founder is also your friend, you already have an established relationship. The friendship should have created a certain level of trust. This trust can be transferred to the business relationship.
Knowing about your co-founder’s work ethic, tendencies, and temperaments is something that happens over time. However, if you’ve been friends for years or have worked with your potential co-founder, you expedite the learning process.
But there are also challenges when your co-founder is also your friend. Going into business with a friend can also strain the friendship. Sometimes co-founders can’t see eye-to-eye about 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 are going to select a friend as a co-founder, be sure to nurture your personal relationship. It is also important to create boundaries between personal and professional relationships. 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
What does a good business partner or, in this case, a co-founder need to have for your joint venture to function well? Simply put, he or she needs to have what you do not have. People with complementary personalities and skill sets make a good partnership.
Someone who fills the gaps in your experience and skill sets, while challenging your views 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.
Business relationships like these are sometimes a double-edged sword. But, if you and your co-founder can manage to strike a balance and find a way to work together, the results can exceed your expectations.
It is not always easy to find a person that can contrast and compliment you. Make sure to spend time with people you think are good candidates. Get to know them on a personal level, and get familiar with their thought process and habits.
You and your partner need to share vision, values, and principles regarding the way your firm operates. You need to aim at the same target and have the same objective and end goal, even if your modus operandi 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 as efficient. Several sites now offer an opportunity to meet with co-founders across the world.
Here are a few of the top co-founder search sites:
To find a co-founder online you need to make your intentions clear and present your ideas in a concise, yet elaborate manner. Everything depends on how you present yourself and your business.
Even though the above sites specialize in matching founders together, don’t neglect your other social media platforms. Let your circle of influence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sites know that you are searching for a co-founder.
Tweak and improve your social media (especially LinkedIn) profiles and try to get your name out there, make yourself known to people in your industry.
Search for Ex-Competitors
You may be able to snag yourself an awesome addition to your founding team by looking at your competition. Sometimes, the leaders, engineers, and salespeople from those other businesses are a good source that you can tap into to build your co-founding team.
The founders of KnowEm.com , Michael Sterko, and Barry Wise, met when they were competitors trying to dominate the same SEO terms.
Ex-Competitors often understand the space you are in and will understand what needs to be done to drive your business forward.
But would a competitor change sides to join a new, unproven startup? It happens more often than you may think. In 2012, founders of Paypal Peter Thiel and Elon Musk backed a competing payment processing startup called Stripe.
There may be several different businesses that you have in the past, are currently, or are going to be competing with. Take a look at past members of startups that are in your space and maybe your competition. Begin to research those individuals that may be a good fit for your startup and you may find your perfect match.
Date Before You Marry
It is tempting to think that the person you found is going to be a good addition because they have passion, a like vision, and even the experience to take your startup to the next level. But it also doesn’t work out that way. It is reported that 70% of all business partnerships fail.
A co-founding relationship is just that; a relationship. And just like any relationship, it is best to take things slow and “date” before you commit. Your business partnership may last years. Taking the time to learn each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and leadership styles is the best approach. There are a few ways that you can “date” your potential co-founders before you embark on startup matrimony.
First, you may want to consider partnering on smaller business projects together. Many engineers will work for a visionary founder on a contract or freelance basis. This gives each person an opportunity to work together to see if there is synergy and if both individuals can take a project to success.
Learn to Argue With Your Candidates
Another way to court your possible co-founder is to argue. Jessica Alter, who co-founded FounderDating, suggests to The Harvard Business Review that how co-founders fight is a key metric in predicting the success of a founding team. It is probably not a good idea to start an argument unnecessarily but it is wise to not run from conflict.
You and your co-founder candidate should review conflict resolution techniques and have a plan of action that can be implemented if a disagreement happens. Learning to argue the right way will come in handy later if the stress and pressure of the business spill over and cause more serious confrontations.
A team is often more powerful than an individual. But just having a team and co-founder does not guarantee success. Use these tips to find the right person that will be able to take your business to the next level.
This article was originally published in April 2016 but has been expanded and updated