It’s extremely easy, as an entrepreneur, to get overwhelmed with the requirements of a startup – whether those be finances, time constraints, or limited talents (we can’t all be good at everything!). Many founders, after careful consideration, decide to bring on a co-founder in order to focus on what they excel at.
However, it can be incredibly hard to find a good co-founder. While it’s great to find someone who can help fund your startup, you also need to be on the same page when it comes to the organization’s overall vision. I sat down with Elizabeth Hague of Wildcat Echo and we came up with the top things to look for in your co-founder.
Commitment and Work Ethic
We’d all love to be sitting on the beach sipping Chardonnay while the business runs itself, but it unfortunately doesn’t quite work that way.
The first few years of startup life can (and most likely will) be mentally and physically taxing. If your co-founder isn’t committed to initially working long days, really gunning for investments, and helping turn a profit, you’ll be pulling dead weight. With this in mind, Elizabeth’s suggestion is to have a very open discussion about commitment. If your co-founder is squeamish about hard work, it should be blatantly obvious, and you’ll be able to move on and continue your search for the right partner. Don’t settle. Just because someone shows interest in your idea doesn’t mean they’re ‘the one.’
Marketing roadblocks, funding issues, delayed product delivery times, etc – your startup is bound to experience some of these roadblocks, and your greatest asset will be your ability to navigate these issues with your expert problem-solving skills. However, problem-solving does require perspective – and having a co-founder to offer their insights and thoughts is invaluable. If you can’t sit down and help each other think outside the box, navigating through difficult situations can feel world-ending. Work with a co-founder who challenges you and offers you fresh perspectives. Complementary talents will play a huge part of complementary thinking, so keep this in mind.
You know how one of the biggest relationship killers is money? It applies to business relationships as well. Elizabeth herself has seen more stakeholders walk away from great ideas solely due to lack of funds than she cares to admit.
To prevent that from happening, you and your co-founder will need to have solid plans for funding and profit. Be sure to have frank discussions where you can set financial expectations – so that when things go right (or wrong), you’ll be able to plan cash flow accordingly.
Roxanne Williams is the Marketing Director at Full Stack Talent, a technology recruiting agency in Tampa, FL. She enjoys pizza, the color black, and cats. Elizabeth Hague is a brand building expert, published speaker, hot sauce aficionado, and co-founder of Wildcat Echo. Follow her agency on instagram.
From our perspective — insight on how to choose your first IT person.