Opinions expressed by londonbusinessblog.com contributors are their own.
When I started setting up my first company, things were tough – the pandemic was at its peak and my team and I only had bootstrap money to carry us through for a few months. There was a real risk that our company would die.
Had I been alone, I couldn’t have changed anything meaningful for the better – I was lucky enough to have a team of co-founders to complement my abilities and make up for my shortcomings.
Looking back, I realized that there were several qualities among us co-founders that were needed to keep going. Those are the qualities every founder should have, and I recommend looking for them when looking for a co-founder.
Qualities Every Co-Founder Should Have
Look for someone with intellectual curiosity and humility in equal parts. Someone who is willing to figure things out can conquer anything. A great co-founder knows they don’t know everything but is eager to find out.
For my team, this became crucial as we moved from building a flashy consumer app to building a outsourcing solution for small and medium-sized businesses. This pivot meant that we had to give up much of our initial dream, so letting go of the requirement and getting familiar with a completely unfamiliar space. By being open to and embracing this change, we ultimately became successful.
Related: Curiosity Didn’t Kill the Cat! How curious leaders keep your business agile.
Pivot points are almost unavoidable when building each technical start-up. However, these are not always as consistent as the example above. In the first place, there are small iterations in the product, reorganizations in the team structure, changes in the marketing approach or a small change in the business model.
A good example is using software while scaling: Facebook Messenger might be a great communication tool for a team of three, but it won’t be enough for a team of 15, so you’ll have to switch to another solution.
This applies to just about every aspect of a business, so you’ll be constantly changing tools, processes, and even team members. As an londonbusinessblog.com, those small changes are a constant, so any good co-founder should feel comfortable constantly changing things.
Related: Here’s What You Really Need To Do To Stay Ahead of the Competition
I come from a military background and have a special relationship with trust. In my previous career, I had to entrust my life to my fellow soldiers – literally. While this is rarely the case in a startup, trust is essential for your business to thrive. Only when you fully trust someone do you let them work in their domain without having to check or verify their work.
You have to trust your co-founders because your lives will get entangled. You’ll spend hours collaborating and impacting each other’s finances, entrepreneurial reputation, and more. A lack of confidence will seriously hinder your effectiveness and may even become a barrier to overall success.
4. Data focus
If you look at successful startups, you will find founders who base decisions on data rather than gut feelings. Of course, people can have some success following their instincts without reliable data. However, ignoring reality and failing to measure criteria relevant to the hypothesis is likely to do them a disservice in the long run.
I learned this the hard way as a CMO running social media ads: I conceived and selected ad images based on my perception of what our customers may find attractive.
Unfortunately, our ad success was mediocre, so I outsourced ad creation to an outside manager. Only with his approach of rigorously testing a variety of images have we finally gained strong traction and achieved a viable return on investment.
People who are aware of their biases, prioritize data over gut feeling, ask the right questions, and collect meaningful data are invaluable to a founding team.
5. Sales Insight
A founder does not have to have a background as a salesperson, but must be able to sell well. As an londonbusinessblog.com you always sell to customers, early team members, investors, business partners, etc.
At least one founder (in startup companies, usually the CEO) should be excellent at selling because you need to spread the word about your company and make people believe in what you do.
When looking for a co-founder, pay particular attention to how persuasive they are when they talk about things they care about. This will be a good indication of their sales acumen.
6. Additional Skills
When looking for a co-founder, it’s easy to make the mistake of only considering people like you. This is only human, as we tend to associate with people with similar beliefs, abilities, etc. However, for a co-founder, you want someone who not like you.
Think of building a business as a relay decathlon, where racers must divide the various disciplines to succeed. To put it bluntly, if you are a tech genius, find someone who is good at sales and business strategy and vice versa.
Related: 3 People You Should Hire
While flexibility is precious in a startup environment, a founder must also be steadfast and committed. It takes a lot of passion to get through the ups and downs of building a technology company, and founders have to persevere when the going gets tough.
However, it is important to also take feedback into account. Don’t confuse grit with stubbornness – it’s essential to stick to your vision and keep executing and repeating despite setbacks. A great londonbusinessblog.com can walk the thin line between perseverance and welcoming sensible change.
Choosing a co-founder is critical as it will determine the success (or failure) of your venture of extraordinary magnitude. Ideally, you will find someone you already know. It’s a good idea to carefully review your network and identify friends, current or former colleagues, and classmates as potential candidates.
Don’t rush into a decision. Give it time and get to know your potential future co-founder. Confidence, adaptability and guts, in particular, take time to evaluate, and rushing into choosing can cost you more time later.
Instead, take the time to evaluate your potential co-founder’s traits. Knowing someone can help you assess their character and determine if they have the qualities necessary to be a successful londonbusinessblog.com.
Related: Thinking About Going Solo? 7 Reasons You Need a Co-Founder.