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5 Questions to Ask While Searching for a Co-founder

Starting your business, especially the first one, is like starting a new life. If you are sure of what you want to achieve, you would soon find yourself thinking and talking about your startup all the time, as if you were living in a new world. This is where you need someone who could share your vision, help you strategize better and work with you to make the plan work on ground. This could be your first key employees, a mentor or better still, a co-founder.

A co-founder is someone you can trust and fall back on. Some entrepreneurs prefer to tie-up with their old college friend or a colleague they know quite well, provided they have the right skills. Some bring their spouses or siblings on board, if they share the same vision. However, the worst thing that you can do to yourself and your startup is to make someone a co-founder only because he/she is “known” to you. Business is about hard facts and numbers, it is not a boat ride or a mountaineering trip. So, you got to be cautious as to whom you want as a co-founder. A right co-founder can add a lot of value and make your entrepreneurial journey worthwhile while a wrong one can rock the boat and leave you gasping for breath.

If you are looking for a co-founder, ask yourself some quick questions:

1. Do you really need a business co-founder? Sometimes the uniqueness of the business makes it difficult to find the right person who could share your vision with. This is mostly true for businesses that are born out of creative skills. Take the case of a fashion designer wanting to start a clothing line or an architect wanting to design green properties. So, instead of getting the wrong person on board as a business co-founder, it is always better not to have one. Instead, you can look for hiring a team of senior employees who would bring complementary skills to the table without you having to share profits with them. So ask yourself whether or not you really need a co-founder.

2. Is there an ideal business co-founder? The answer is “No.” Finding a co-founder is like looking for a life-partner. You may have a checklist of the qualities you want, but eventually he/she will be a person with both good and bad qualities. Instead of stereotyping the kind of “person” you want, it would be better to focus on the “skills” you are looking for.  

3. How many is too many? Having two or three co-founders works wonders, but a large team could make the things a bit difficult. Unless your startup is of the scale that needs several people working out of different locations, it is better to have a small team. This makes decision-making faster.

4. What skills are you looking for? To zero in on a list of skills you are looking for in your prospective co-founder, you should first be sure of your own. If you are doing a technology startup and are great at operations, you might want to look for someone who would do wonders at marketing and sales. So you work on the product, while your co-founder goes about getting more business. Complementary skills are what you should focus on, so that each brings value to the table. Get to the drawing board and write down the areas where your startup needs that push.

5. Can you trust your business co-founder? If you have nearly decided on whom you want to be your co-founder, this is a big question to ask. A business partnership is a lot about trusting each other, only them you would be comfortable sharing the minutest details about your business. There would be times when some people around you might want to create a wedge between you and your co-founder, in which case only a strong partnership based on trust would survive.

Hope you find the right business co-founder(s). If you’ve already found them and have advice for other entrepreneurs, be sure to share in the comments below!

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