August 28, 2014
It’s all about chemistry. Whether you’re looking for the love of your life or a cofounder, there must be a dynamic energy that spurs you toward the future and never holds you back. But finding the ideal partner requires a little legwork and we have 7 need-to-know tips that will help you get started.
1. Do opposites attract?
In some situations, that may be the case, but when it comes to your livelihood, a major factor in selecting the right cofounder is making sure that whatever your differences may be, you stand side by side when it comes to drive, passion, and work ethic. Odd couple scenarios make for a good laugh but stink as a business model. Search for people with complementary skills to yours. If you are a lousy salesperson, you better find a partner with some sales skills. If your partner is a technical guru but lacks people skills, he will need someone to make connections with customers and partners. Think of balance as you contemplate partnering with someone.
2. What does your gut tell you?
Once you know where your mutual interests lie, it may seem like enough, but it’s not. Picking a cofounder is a serious endeavor that requires a lot of soul searching. Ask yourself the hard question without sugarcoating: do you trust this person? It may be a partnership, but you each take a huge risk.
3. Commitment matters
Your best friend from college may be your trusted confidant and a creative genius. Wouldn’t he make a great partner? Maybe. Don’t select a partner because you are comfortable. You are not looking for a friend only. You need someone who is super committed to the mission of the business. If you partner with a friend, you might not only end up with the wrong cofounder but also lose a friend. Will the two of you have the power to push each other through the challenges and stay friends in the process?
4. Money matters
You hear about couples where one is frugal and the other spends like there is no tomorrow. Relationships like that are doomed. You and your partner have to agree on handling money in the business. If one of you is hoarding cash and the other is constantly pushing for expenses, you will spend much of your energy fighting. The energy you waste on your disagreements about money takes away from other areas of your business.
5. Search the talent pool
Finding a cofounder is a time-consuming process. Consider it your first big investment. Take time. Don’t rush into anything. Meet people. Ask around. Network. It will take time to find the right person, but it will be worth it. Use offline spaces and social hangouts. Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook are just a few examples. Take a free business class at your local learning annex; go out and meet and greet, make new friends, and (metaphorically speaking) speed date other up-and-comers to find out where your paths may ultimately connect.
6. Minimize weaknesses
When looking for a cofounder it isn’t just about your mutual strengths; it’s also about your mutual weaknesses. If you’re the type that can write excellent blog copy all day without batting an eyelash but coding or advertising isn’t your strong suit, find someone who can help you fill in the gap. Avoid partners that share your weaknesses. The whole point about partnering is to create a stronger unit.
7. Integrity is everything
Integrity is not a skill you learn. You either have it or not. It will get you through the toughest times. You can always become a better coder or salesperson, but you can’t make up for lack of integrity. If you can’t trust each other, you will try to build your business on a foundation of quicksand. Failure is inevitable.
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