Choosing the perfect co-founder for our business with 4 vital questions
Finding the perfect partner in life is difficult. No, we’re not talking about the search for the one and only soulmate that makes your heart skip a beat every time you glance their way; we’re talking about the business partner.
The kind that has the same vision for your company’s future, the kind that can read your mind in the heat of an important meeting and the one you’re never worried will screw you over when you’re dealing with the accounting part of the job. It’s a tough call and quite a picky choice when choosing a co-founder, but there are a few ways to help you make the right choice and set out on what hopes to be one of the most rewarding partnerships of your life.
Most companies are set up with two founding partners, the brain, the vision, the organisation and the skill. Hopefully, both parties are fluent in each of the core assets and can complement each other when the other lags behind. Roughly 80% of the startups out there feature two big dogs who ultimately agree on the economic welfare of the company. But the most important fact is that each business partner gets along with the other – as with every relationship gone wrong, the breakup is messy can turn sour and will always end up in someone’s (if not both’s) loss. It’s also emotionally, mentally and physically stressful to deal with should your plans go askew.
Learning how to get along; set a firm foundation and create rules and boundaries may be hard; but here are some of the building block you’ll need to assemble before you seal the deal:
No. 1: Can you trust this person?
This might seem like an obvious point, but just because your buddy from high-school changed his jock mentality a while back, doesn’t mean he won’t pull out the macho attitude again. Building trust is one of the most important foundational matters in any relationship and a business framework is no different.
If there’s a shadow of doubt in your potential business partner; you’d be better of hunting down someone else rather than settling for what you think you could cost you a client. Trust is one of the hardest qualities to earn, so make sure it’s a well deserved badge your co-founder wears.
No. 2: Is it a perfect match?
If you’re taking your time to answer this question, then the likelihood of the matter is your initial choice is not the right way to go. Draw up a pros and cons list; if there are enough cons to put you off working with the candidate then don’t settle. This will be one of the most important decisions in your life; there’s no return policy that states you can trade your co-founder in for a better model with no harm done.
It might seem like a cut throat or selfish act but it’s one that will save you a small fortune in time, money and stress. Test the water; give your potential partner a run for their money and question their devotion to the project from the get-go.
No. 3: Do you compliment each other?
It’s a fact known by all logical businessperson that no one being can possess all the right skills to run a business; help is needed and a co-founder should be able to pick up where you left off, improve the job and vice-versa. Now when we say compliment, we don’t mean it in the sense of talking you up in the midst of an opening meeting; we mean does your chosen co-founder have complementary skills that make up for your weaker attributes.
Two powerhouse techies with zero social skills might be able to swarm the internet and win over the masses in their ingenious coding creations, but wouldn’t it be greater if an introverted tech guru and socially fluent digital marketing genius came together to create an innovative product or service that sweeps the world off its feet? Most definitely.
No. 4: Did you get a prenup?
Not thinking of a pre-working agreement. Bad idea. The trust aspect, the character aspect, the working practices aspect might be so in place, it’s a match made in heaven. But the thing you both don’t quite know; is what the future holds. There’s no saying what might happen and who might lose track along the way so the best thing to protect each founder is to set out a legal contract that ensures all assets are equal or split in a fair and just manner.
There’s no shame in asking to set things out legally before you embark on the biggest journey of your life. If your partner is likely to get offended by such propositions, lay it out in a clear and functional kind of way. There’s no fooling people into signing what they feel threatened by, but if the picture is painted in a fair and trusted manner; your chance of problems will be rather slim in the future.
At the end of the day, both parties involved in this business contract need to understand that communication is key, understanding and empathy go a long way and change is inevitable. There will be ups and downs; rights and wrongs and a few arguments along the way but setting everything in stone from the first day in action may be your lifeboat when things get rough. Even though there may be one founder whose brainchild is at stake; either founders need to have the total success of their business at heart for 100% of the journey.