4 Qualities to Look for in a Co-founder

6 minute read

As a startup founder, having fellow co-founders for your entrepreneurial journey can mean a world of difference when it comes to business success. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”, as the African proverb quotes.

Or as our Co-founder and CEO, Julien, puts it: “It’s more fun with cofounders. Without the metrics of valuation or other ‘success’ statistics – it’s just better with a team!”.

However, choosing co-founders for your early-stage company should be a thoughtful process that shouldn’t be rushed. It’s fine to be enthusiastic about starting your business, but you need to take it one step at a time if you want to succeed.

This article aims to help you understand why you might prefer having a team of co-founders instead of being a solo founder, how to identify qualities of good co-founders for your business, and how to search for that significant (business) other.

Overview:

Finding the ideal co-founders for your business

These are the main reasons why partnering up is a better idea than opting for a solo career in entrepreneurship. This is particularly important for startups and early stage companies.

Helping hands mean a world of difference

First of all, starting a business on your own is difficult. You may have a great idea and a lot of energy. But once you start executing your ideas, you might realize that there’s a lot of work to be done.

When you struggle to stay afloat, there’s when some help from co-founders could be needed. This is the main reason you see popular startups having more than one founder.

Moral support is crucial

It’s quite difficult to start a business, but running it is even more challenging.

With monetary capital on the line and constant threats from the competition, it’s good to have a partner in your journey who shares your vision, especially during the rough times of your joint venture.

That person should join all the decision processes and encourage you even when the situation doesn’t look too pleasing.

Sharing all the stress

Tremendous stress generally arises as a result of the massive amount of effort required to begin a new business idea.

You should never bring your stress from work home with you. Be aware that your family and friends won’t always understand what you’re going through, and that you won’t be able to rant to your coworkers as they are not in the shoes of a founder.

You’ll never feel more alone than as a solo entrepreneur, so put yourself in a position to communicate your stress with someone you can trust. That person should be your business partner.

Enhanced decision-making

Co-founders don’t only act as the first filter for all of your ideas but they should also actively participate in making the ultimate decisions.

You’ll come up with more ideas as a result of brainstorming, and you’ll be better equipped to close the gaps in those ideas by challenging each other and having a challenge circle. At the end of the day, if the final aim remains the same, differing opinions can be good to sharpen your perspective and help you to see the bigger picture.

4 great qualities of a co-founder

Here are the qualities you would want in any ideal co-founder to start your startup with.

Passionate

A shared passion for your idea is a must and you have to find co-founders that have it. You want your potential co-founders to recognize your drive, idea, and passion, but they also have to share all of these with you in order for your business to succeed.
You need to be driven by the same desire if you want to reach the same goal with your company.

Adaptable

It’s extremely important to have one or more co-founders that can adapt and improvise from day one. You need co-founders that have advanced skills, are quick to think on the spot and can withstand the pressure that comes with setting up a startup.

Your co-founders shouldn’t be afraid to take on these little responsibilities. This person should have the passion to move the firm ahead, as well as the humility to recognize that answering phones and emptying garbage cans will be necessary at times.

Integrity and honesty

There are so many ways for money to vanish and people to be dishonest when you’re involved at the ownership level.

Even if money isn’t involved, there are things a person can do to call a company’s ethics into question. Those activities don’t have to be illegal to have a long-term negative impact on your company, which is even trickier.

So, look for someone trustworthy. Make it clear from the start that complete honesty is expected at all times. Remember that selecting the appropriate co-founders is about more than just abilities; it’s also about character.

Growth-oriented

Excellent co-founders are people who understand that there is still a lot to learn. This acceptance that the individual doesn’t have it all figured out, along with a willingness to learn, will go a long way toward ensuring positive growth.

The philosophy of continuous development is a valuable asset to possess. The people who are best suited for leading a startup are those who are eager to learn more and push the company beyond its current limits.

Growth requires a lot of energy and your co-founders need to have what it takes to support you. You need a tenacious founder that will help you out when you’re running low on energy. In other words, co-founders need to know how to motivate others to keep everything running smoothly.

How to look for a co-founder?

As you can see, it’s a great idea to look for another founder. However, finding the right co-founders is the most difficult part of this story for many companies.

When evaluating and assessing co-founders’ technical skills, you would first need to check for their qualities and qualifications. Their strengths need to complement your weaknesses and their qualifications should have application at the office.

Also, you have to share the same values and objectives. It often happens that the shared values act as the bond that strengthens a partnership that’s on the brink of failure. This might be the key to turning things around when things go south.

Another important point is that you need to find a founder willing to adapt to the ever-changing business market. Avoid people that will sweat the small things, as there are bigger life-changing decisions to be made as a management team.

Craft a list of questions for your potential partners. Check if they can be trusted, then move on to their values and their characteristics. Once you see that you have a good fit there, move on to technicalities about the company and what you expect to provide but also get from them.

Keep in mind that you need to take advantage of your business network for this occasion. Establish a connection to your network. Perhaps there are people in your professional networks, friends, relatives, or even classmates who have the mentality, skillset, enthusiasm, and industry knowledge you’re looking for to be successful.

When you start a company with someone you’ve known for a long time, you’re less likely to be blindsided than when you start a company with complete strangers.

You can also look into local accelerator and incubator programs if you need help with finding the right partner for your business idea.

These programs are designed to kick things off and assist companies in growing and avoiding a premature end to their operations.
“A lot of the good things that happen are through random face to face meetings. So I think that any chance to widen your network with like minded people who are also enterprising is useful,” says Julien.

Accelerators are not a new concept. They first appeared in the early 2000s and they have, unsurprisingly, become a necessary component of most new companies.

There is no reason why you couldn’t make good use of them. And if you want to read more about accelerators and incubators in Asia, you can check out our free comprehensive guide jam packed with more than 38 accelerators you can apply to.

Frequently asked questions

You don’t necessarily have to have only one founder. When there’s a team, it is possible for co-founders to hold varying viewpoints, which could be beneficial to your startup’s growth.

Too many captains steering the ship, on the other hand, might be harmful for different reasons. A large number of partners dilutes overall leadership. Committee leadership can stifle vital decision-making and having too many founders indicates poor leadership.

Therefore, two co-founders, possibly three (but no more than three) is the magic range.

Only when founders work as employees, they get to be rewarded. Non-working founders are entitled to stock and dividends, but not to a fixed monthly or weekly income.

They don’t get paid if their only input is money and moral support during the ideation process. For that, they must be on the company’s payroll.

There’s no fast and hard rule to answering this as every business’s situation and structure is unique. However, it would be helpful to adopt a dynamic split in allocating your shares.

What this means is to calculate the value of your individual contributions as co-founder relative to other stakeholders in the team. This can be dependent on variables such as cash, time or even relationship with customers and investors.

Doing so will help to ensure that your shares are split equitably which can reduce chances of conflict in the future.

Wrap up

Two heads are usually better than one in a startup or a new business venture.

But rather than simply being compensated for completing a task, both parties must share the excitement, long-term possibility, and risk.

Furthermore, investors are concerned that if there’s no balance which is brought by a helpful partner, a lone entrepreneur may become overwhelmed, handicapped, or misled. That is more than enough to realize how important it is to have a partner to help you on your entrepreneurial journey.

If you need further help with incorporating your business and finding the right co-founder that will help you achieve success with your business venture, contact Sleek. Our team is here to answer your questions on how to start and manage your startup.

If you are interested in more startup content, or how to start your very own startup, you can subscribe to our newsletter below.

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