Searching for a business partner
- Here is the big idea
- Decide what skills, qualities, and traits you are looking for in a cofounder.
- Go online, go offline and find your perfect match.
- Settle everything before you get to work – put everything on paper.
Business is just better with a friend at your side. We are firm believers that starting a business with someone else is the way to go. Our own founders went that route, and they are among the many who wouldn’t have it any other way.
Starting and running a business is full of stress and success, and you’ll want someone to share those with.
Sure, you can find examples of entrepreneurs who have gone it alone ─ like Richard Branson ─ but those people are rare. Plus, it’s likely that they had a lot of help along the way.
Having a business partner can be vital to your business and success. Here’s why:
They bring additional skills you don’t have
No matter who you are, chances are you just can’t do it all. You bring a lot of skills that are crucial to your business, but why not bring in a business partner and have double the skills? Even if you can take care of everything, bringing in a partner will make your life a whole lot easier.
“Having someone else in the mix helps to negate your weaknesses and magnify your strengths.”– Danny King of Accredible
Another thing to consider: A partner will probably have a different management style to you. From getting started to growing and scaling, your business’ needs will vary, and some management styles will work better than others depending on what stage you’re at.
They keep you company along the startup route
Starting your own business is a journey that’s like an uphill battle and a roller coaster all rolled into one. Being the only person to experience this can get pretty lonely and isolated.
Mentors, advisors, and board members are very helpful when it comes to making business decisions, but it’s even better to have someone by your side to experience it all with you ─ from the risks and problems to the successes and rewards.
They can provide cover
Whether you take a two-week holiday with the family or just a day to not get out of bed, there comes a time when every business owner needs a little break.
Having a business partner allows you to take one whenever you need it without worrying about those cheques that need signing or the thousand other responsibilities that fall in your lap. Your partner can pick up the slack and provide cover for you so that you’re able to take a truly stress-free break from time to time.
As Jonathan Gibaud of Emergency Food Storage puts it, “Having a co-founder helps smooth out the ups and downs of running a business. In good times, there’s someone to celebrate with. In bad times, someone to commiserate with.”
They bring a fresh point of view
Everything about you affects the way you manage and make decisions about your company. A co-founder can shed new light on how you look at business because they will see it differently. What better way to implement the best decisions possible than to have a partner who can point out your blind spots?
Finding the right co-founder
Now that we agree that having a co-founder is awesome, how are you going to find one? Picking the right business partner is huge ─ even more important than finding the right person to marry.
Many entrepreneurs have their co-founders with them from the very beginning. They’ve brainstormed and bounced ideas off each other for hours on end, and they’re both super passionate about the business idea they’ve come up with.
Sometimes entrepreneurs deliberately go out looking for a co-founder. It can be hard to find someone who believes in your vision as much as you do, but it’s definitely doable.
How to find business partners
Is there any difference between a business partner and a co-founder? Well, not necessarily. Whether you want to find an official co-founder, partner, collaborator, investor, or any other early employee, there are a ton of places you can go to start your search. You can find any of these people in the places we have outlined below.
So where CAN you find co-founders and business partners?
- CoFoundersLab: Matchmaking for Entrepreneurs Find the people you’re looking for with CoFoundersLab’s extensive network. The company also holds in-person matchmaking events.
- OneStart Co-founder Hub: This network allows you to browse through tons of potential co-founders. Their hub is great for finding tech/biotech co-founders.
- London Tech Week Co-Founder Speed Dating: A speed pitching opportunity at London’s annual Tech Week. Pitch yourself and your business in 30 seconds, then network until you find a co-founder who is a good fit.
Despite how awesome technology is today, it can be hard to determine if someone is the right fit solely based on an online profile. So if you want to meet potential partners in person, here are some ideas:
- Ask around
Ask around to see if any of your connections know of awesome technical people looking for co-founders. Check out LinkedIn, your university’s alumni network, and ask around when you go to family reunions, weddings, and parties.
- Find start-up events and conferences
There are tons of start-up events and conferences happening across the country, so find one that’s right for you. You might try Kent 2020, which will allow you to meet all types of people in an informal setting, or The Great British Business Show. One of these people could be your future business partner or connect you with one.
- Join Meetup groups
Meetup.com and Up Global are famous for connecting people with similar interests. By searching entrepreneur, co-founder, hacker, startup, and other applicable terms, you’ll be able to find some groups that might offer potential connections.
- Go to a startup camp
If you visit a start-up camp like Startup Weekend to slave away over one idea for 54 hours, you’ll likely meet others who are as interested in entrepreneurship as you are.
How to find programmers and technical co-founders for a start-up
With today’s reliance on the internet, technical co-founders and programmers are a hot commodity. Everyone is looking for their skills and expertise.
Just because you are not a tech expert doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend meetups and conferences aimed at technical people. Whether you understand everything or not, you can use it as an opportunity to meet and get to know someone who does. Getting involved in the community will give you tons of options for who you want to bring on board with you.
How to find out if a technical co-founder or programmer is any good
Once you’ve found a potential co-founder, you’ll have to figure out if they’re any good at what they do. Just because someone loves your idea and spent five years at Google doesn’t mean they’re the right person for the job.
It’s tough to figure out, so start with these three questions to see if a particular person is right for you:
- What applications have they built?
You really want to see applications or side projects the person has built on their own, even if they failed, since this shows both entrepreneurial spirit and their ability to build from start to launch. It’s also helpful to find out if they’ve learned from failure.
- Are they involved in their professional community, and do they have the respect of their peers?
You want to make sure your technical co-founder is respected by the greater community. You’re looking for involvement, not that they’re master of the universe. See if they have a blog or a Twitter account.
- How do they interact with other technical co-founders?
If you have a mentor or know another successful technical co-founder, ask them to talk to your possible candidate. This should not be an interview but an interactive conversation with someone that has experience and may be able to give you some insight.
How to avoid picking the wrong business partner
Now that you know that 1. you want to work with a co-founder, and 2. where to find someone, you’re probably wondering how to make sure you pick the right person for the job. Well, it’s simple ─ just don’t pick the wrong one!
One of the most important keys to getting it right is to do your homework. Think of finding a partner just like hiring an employee. Have potential co-founders demonstrate their skills, ask them for references, and set up an in-person meeting (or two).
Another important part of the search for your co-founder is to avoid rushing the process. Just like finding a spouse, you may not fall in love with the first person you consider. Take the time to truly get to know your potential partner(s). If it’s not a good fit, move on and get to know someone else.
When it comes to choosing your co-founder, investing the necessary time and effort up front will ultimately save you lots of stress in the long-run.
The manageable risks of having a co-founder
We are firm believers that a co-founder is a huge asset to your business, but there are still some risks that you might run in to.
- Confusion about leadership.
- Lack of alignment.
- Questions about ownership.
- Unclear expectations and rewards.
- Having a co-founder who is also a best friend.
Don’t let these risks scare you away from finding a partner, though. The benefits far outweigh the potential for road bumps. If you exercise effective communication and good planning, you can avoid a lot of the potential problems.
Make sure everything is settled beforehand. Agree on vesting terms, dole out responsibilities, and put it all on paper.
“Create distinctive roles, so that both of you stay in your lane.”– Blessing Platinum of The Young Director Magazine
Need more info on co-founders?
- Additional Resources
- The art of finding a co-founder │ Guy Kawasaki
- 5 recommendations if you are looking for a tech co-founder │ develapps
- The perfect partner - Choosing a co-founder for your start-up │ Huffington Post UK
- When do I need a co-founder? │ KPMG
- How to find a techie co-founder for your startup │ VentureBeat