Two heads are definitely better than one, especially when you are starting a new business. Taking on a co-founder could be a way to not just spread the burden but also bring new skills to your business that you perhaps lack, so you can focus on what you are good at. But taking on a co-founder is like getting married – you are entering into a long term, potentially very stressful relationship with a partner from whom breaking up with could prove very messy. So here are 5 qualities you should look for in a co-founder before you jump into a potentially life changing relationship:
Similar Work Habits
We all have our own flow and style of working – some operate better at particular times of day, supremely organised to the point of being unable to tolerate disorganisation or prefer to take more of a leadership style approach.
However you work, make sure the combined approach of you and your co-founder has the synergy you need to grow a business. You could consider choosing someone you have worked with previously or, if you are finding someone new to join your business then you must incorporate a probationary period with their package.
If you are considering getting into a long term relationship, then make sure you actually like the person. Running a business is accompanied with long days, late nights and sales meetings where you and your co-founder may need to bounce off each other in front of potential clients to win business.
Presenting a united front to team members and clients with someone who you actually get along with will make you and your co-founder an unstoppable team.
Your co-founder will spend a lot of time with you not just getting to know confidential business information but also aspects of your personal life as and when they cross over into your business life. Having complete trust in your co-founder is all part of a healthy business relationship.
Co-founder relationships often fall apart because of financial reasons. When you are running a small business cash flow can be tight meaning the management team may need to accept lower salaries than they may aspire to or even suffer delayed salary payments to keep their business going. If you are asking for your co-founder to accept a ‘start up’ salary check that they can truly afford to live off the salary being paid to them. People struggling with personal financials may not perform to their best abilities, feel demotivated and ultimately move on to find a role which can pay them the salary they need to live.
The leadership team you build for your team should carry a full range of skills to give your business the best opportunity to grow. For example, if you have technical skills should you be searching for a co-founder with financial and operational abilities crucial to you monetising your product but something you feel out of depth dealing with alone? Take time to think about how you see your business growing and the steps you need to take move forward so you can establish what complementary skills you are looking for in a co-founder.
Getting a co-founder on board is a great way to share burden and take your business to the next level, but don’t rush in. It’s better to have no co-founder than have the wrong one.