So you’ve had a brainwave. No, scrap that. You’ve had the brainwave that could change the course of not only your life, but also the life of millions of people around the world. You’ve tossed and turned in bed late at night thinking about it for months, unable to shake this great new opportunity from your previously unenlightened mind.
But thousands have been there, too. For every Uber and Facebook there were thousands of companies that didn’t quite get it right. That failed to nail their strategy. That neglected key areas of their business. That disregarded the key warning signs their idea was failing and eventually fell into the 9 out of 10 startups that don’t succeed.
So what’s the difference? Execution. Every. Single. Time.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some born who can conquer this mission solo (Branson, Bezos and Musk spring to mind) but for the most part, bringing in a co-founder at an early stage of your journey is crucial to the long-term success of your company.
So what makes a great co-founder and how do you know they’re the right fit for you? Here’s 5 key indicators we feel are the difference makers.
Any co-founder must be aligned with your overall vision for how to grow and scale the company. There’s no point 12 months down the line you suddenly realising that in fact this perfect person you teamed up with actually has a very differing view for how they see the business developing. Because of this, make sure you have clear and frank discussions right at the very beginning. Be upfront and honest right from the get go and you set yourself up for success later down the line. They must buy into the idea and believe it just as much as you do, otherwise as time progresses and pressures increase, cracks could appear that dent the potential for growth.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just start a company with our best mate? You’d never run out of conversation and wouldn’t have to look far for someone to go for a beer with on a Friday. The problem is, your best friend invariably thinks the same as you, comes from the same background and maybe even has the same outlook on life. As good as this may seem, it doesn’t create an environment that breeds new ideas and more often than not, they’d simply prefer to agree with you than upset the status quo. This is no good.
Look for someone that not only brings a different skill set (finance when you may be a marketing guru) but also approaches problems differently.
This will allow you as a company to assess and analyse problems from every angle, not just your own narrow minded one.
We’ve all heard the saying that you’re the sum of the 5 people closest to you. Well this couldn’t be truer when it comes to a co-founder. Invariably you will be spending a lot of time with this person so be sure to choose someone that motivates and inspires you. That challenges you to become a better leader/manager/person and forces you out of your comfort zone daily. This will not only lead to a better you, but a better business that thrives on personal development.
4. Work ethic
Startups are hard. Period. Don’t team up with the ‘ideas guy’ that isn’t prepared to put in the hard yards when 12 months in you still haven’t got traction and no investor will take your call. Find a co-founder that has the innate ability to keep working when even you may have given up. After all, there’s lots of smart, nice, astute people out there, but hard work differentiates the one you want on your team to the one you don’t.
How can you test this early on? Set him a task with a short deadline. A small but simple way of assessing whether he’s committed to the business and is prepared to sacrifice an early night to get the job done.
Staying calm is an important and underrated trait not just for entrepreneurs, but for anyone. Passion is fantastic, but when emotions overrule the ability of an individual to take a step back and assess before making a decision, then it becomes an undesirable quality. Choose a co-founder with a level head that doesn’t flap or fluster when the pressure rises.
So where can you find this mythical, magical, all round great asset to your company? Well, it isn’t easy.
Networking events are a great start so get along to as many in your local city as possible. Also think through whom you know and ask yourself whether any of them might be a good fit for your startup (taking into account point 2).
And overall, good luck! Co-founders can make the difference between your idea jump-starting to success or sinking without a trace. Get searching! 🙂
For any further info please feel free to drop me a line on [email protected]