We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – startups are a risky venture. Failure is common and can happen for a variety of reasons. After a lack of market and lack of funds, one of the top reasons startups fail is that they didn’t build the right team.
A sturdy house is built on a strong foundation, and the same goes for building a company. So, for solo entrepreneurs, one major question to answer early on is whether or not you want to bring on a co-founder. If the answer to that question is yes, here are the traits you should look for.
Benefits of Having a Co-Founder
Trying to make it as a one-man show is hard. Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider finding a partner:
Getting a startup off the ground requires a lot of time, energy, and money. It can be draining in many aspects, especially if you’re doing it all by yourself. Having a co-founder who is right there with you who you can lean on and commiserate with can make the hard times feel less isolating.
Distribution of Responsibility
As a founder, there are many hats to be worn. When you’re responsible for both management and execution, it’s easy to get bogged down. When you have someone to share these responsibilities with equally, not only does it make things easier on you, but it lessens the likelihood that something gets dropped.
Two Heads are Better Than One
While you may feel very strongly about how a problem should be solved, adding a different perspective into the mix may help you find solutions that never would have occurred to you before. Having a sounding board that knows the business just as well as you can help you from thinking too narrowly.
Starting a business is expensive. If you’re able to share the burden with a co-founder, it could help you get your idea up and off the ground sooner than if you were looking to bootstrap it by yourself.
For investors, a company with a single founder poses a fairly large risk. If something happens to that founder or if they leave, where does that leave the company? Having an additional founder ensures that there is still someone there who understands the company and its vision on the deepest level.
What to Look for in a Co-Founder
So, a co-founder can make things easier. Now, the challenge is finding the right co-founder for your business.
You will see this advice often because it’s one of the greatest advantages of having a co-founder – complementary skills. You can’t know everything, and bringing on a co-founder presents an opportunity for you to fill the gaps in your own skills and strengths. Ideally, you don’t want someone who has the same skills and background as you. For example, if you’re strength lies in product development, having a co-founder with a background in finance would be more advantageous than having a co-founder who is also strong a product developer.
Never bring on a co-founder whose integrity or ethics have come into question, no matter what else they might be able to bring to the table. Find someone who is honest, transparent, and trustworthy.
Flexibility & Adaptability
The whole point of having a partner is to work together. Someone who is rigid or unwilling to work with you to find a compromise will not make a good partner in the long-term. Similarly, the ideal co-founder is someone who can adapt to different scenarios and think fast.
You may find someone who is an expert in their field, but if they’re flaky or unstable, steer clear. When the going gets tough, you want to know without a doubt that you can count on that person to show up and get things done.
Lastly, you want someone who can match your passion and enthusiasm for your business. When you’re united under one goal, it becomes easier to push forward.
Do You Need One to Succeed?
Whether or not you decide to bring on a co-founder really comes down to a matter of personal preference. In fact, there is data to support that single founder startups actually makeup up the largest percentage of startups to secure successful exits. If you do choose to share the burden, be sure it’s with someone who has the skills you need, who you trust, who is a good partner, and who shares your passion for your business.