How to Find the Perfect Co-Founders for Your Startup

How to Find the Perfect Co-Founders for Your Startup
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If you're like most high school entrepreneurs, you know that finding the right co-founders is essential to the success of your business. According to Harvard Business, 65% of startups fail due to conflict among co-founders. Co-founder fallout is the #1 reason that kills early startups, but it doesn't have to be that way. Here are a few tips to help you solve the co-founder puzzle.

Know your personality

The Entrepreneur - The entrepreneur is the visionary and dreamer. The entrepreneur craves control and change and is who you want at first growing your business. The entrepreneur asks themself, "Where do I want to take the company?"

The Manager - The manager is the problem solver and helps bring a sense of stability and structure to your business. They are great at managing details and people but may lack vision when it comes to growth. The manager asks themself, "What's the best way to get this thing done?"

The Builder - The builder is the doer, tinkerer, and engineer. They love to create and execute but are disinterested in grand visions and systems. The builder asks themself, "What do I need to know to make this happen?"

Think of when Apple was created. Steve Jobs played the role of the entrepreneur. He was the dreamer and visionary behind Apple. John Sculley was the manager; he kept everyone in check, bringing stability and structure to the business. Steve Wozniak was the tinkerer and engineer actually building the product.

Steve Jobs, John Sculley, and Steve Wozniak unveil the Apple LLC Computer in 1984. Credit: AP

It's important first to know your own personality when it comes to finding the right co-founders for your startup. Do you crave control and change? Are you a problem solver who likes stability and structure? Do you want a partner who can share the workload and responsibilities? Or someone with complementary skill sets that will help take your business to the next level?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you find co-founders that complement your strengths and weaknesses.

Find co-founders with complementary skill sets

Form a well-rounded company

Now that you know which personality type you are, one of the most important things to look for when finding co-founders is complementary skillsets. If everyone on your team has the same strengths and weaknesses, your business will suffer. But if you have a team member who is good at marketing and another who is good at coding, for example, you'll be able to create a well-rounded company that can do everything it needs to succeed.

Do your research.

Before you even start looking for co-founders, take some time to figure out what kind of person would be a good fit for your business. What are your goals? What are your values? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Once you have a clear idea of what you're looking for, it will be easier to find people who share your vision and can help you achieve your goals.

Look for people with a similar entrepreneurial mindset.

One of the most important things you need to look for in co-founders is a similar entrepreneurial mindset. This means that they are passionate about their work and aren't afraid of hard work. They also need to take risks and think outside the box. If your potential co-founders don't have this kind of attitude, look for other founders.

Look for people who share your same vision and values

It's also important to find co-founders who share your same vision and values. You want to make sure that you're working with people who have the same goals as you, so it may not be a good fit if they don't align. For example, suppose one of your co-founders is passionate about social justice, but another isn't interested in politics at all. This could cause problems down the road when it comes time for decision-making within the company. Take for example, the Paypal mafia. All of them had similar visions and values. They all wanted to create an online payment system that would allow people to make payments across the globe in seconds.

The Paypal Mafia. Photo Credit: Robyn Twomey

Look for people who are willing to commit their time and energy into your startup venture. Working on Zip2, before Paypal, Elon Musk said, "the website was up during the day and I was coding it at night, seven days a week, all the time.” You have to be relentless and find others who are also relentless.

When it comes to finding the right co-founders for your startup, it's essential to keep in mind that you're looking for more than just skillsets and experience. You want people who share your same vision and values, have a similar entrepreneurial mindset, and are willing to commit their time and energy.

You need to find co-founders who are willing to dedicate themselves fully towards helping grow your business together as well. If someone says they can only work one hour a week, this isn't going to cut it!

Look for people who are willing to take risks and think outside the box.

If you want your startup company to succeed, you need someone who is willing to be creative with their ideas and not afraid of failure. They should also have an open mind about what direction the business could go in if it doesn't work out as planned at first try. It'll definitely help make things easier when trying new strategies or products since everyone will always support the organization working hard towards success together.

Don’t rush into anything too quickly; take time before deciding on any major decisions.

This is especially important when it comes to finding the right co-founders. You don’t want to feel rushed into making any decisions and wind up regretting them down the road. So take your time, do your research, and see if everything feels like a good fit before moving forward with anything. Having a great team behind a product is almost as important as the product itself.

Trust your gut - if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't

This is especially important when it comes to finding the right co-founders. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't, and you should move on. Don't waste your time or energy trying to make something work if it's not meant to be. You'll know when the perfect team members come along---they'll be the ones who make you feel excited and motivated about your startup, not stressed out.

Trust your gut when you find someone who seems like a good fit. Your intuition is telling you this for a reason! Don't ignore it or try to talk yourself out of what feels right by saying things such as "Oh well, maybe they'll change once we get started" or "Maybe if I just give them more time..." No way! Go with your gut. If you can't decide, the answer is No.

Ask yourself some questions about what success means for each person involved in this project before you start working together: What does it look like when we've achieved our goals? How will it feel if we fail? Are there any areas where my vision doesn't align with theirs? If so, can I live without compromise on those points?

Compatibility is key - make sure you get along well

This one is pretty obvious, but sometimes goes understated! If you don't get along well with your co-founders, things will be a lot harder than they need to be. So take the time to get to know them and see if there's good chemistry there. Startup ventures are hard enough as it is - you don't want any added stress from fighting all the time with the people you're supposed to be working closely with.

Originally drawn by the Airbnb founders at Y-Combinator. Paul Graham, co-founder of Y-Combinator, via Twitter.

Be prepared for bumps in the road.

No one has a perfect track record - even Elon Musk had his share of failures. So expect that things won't always go smoothly when it comes to your startup company. There will be challenges, and it's up to you how you handle them; stay positive and keep moving forward! Don't give up because something didn't work out as planned or even if everything seems hopeless right now.

Make sure you share the same work ethic

Your co-founders should have the same work ethic as you. They should be willing to put in long hours when needed, and they must understand the importance of working hard.

Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX, sleeping on his office. SBF is worth $30 billion and is the richest person under the age of 30.

Numerous notable founders recall sleeping in the office in the early days of their startup. Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, recalls sleeping in his office. He also tells a story about how he convinced investors to fund him during the early days. He recalls waiting outside venture capital's office for two hours until they finished a meeting and then pitched them.

It's important to understand the sacrifices that will need to be made, and if your potential co-founders aren't on board with making those sacrifices, then it's probably not going to work out in the long run.

Have a clear understanding of each other's roles and responsibilities

Everyone should know what their job is within the company and what tasks need to be completed by whom. This helps avoid confusion and keeps things running smoothly!

Make sure everyone's expectations are clear from day one.

Before you start working together, you need to be upfront with your co-founders about what success looks like for each person involved in this startup!

You must have a clear understanding of each other's roles and responsibilities. Startups can sometimes get off track when there isn't clear communication between founders or employees.  This can lead to confusion and frustration, so it's important to be upfront with each other from the get-go about what everyone's expecting. And don't forget, have a clear understanding of your own role---you don't want to be doing everything yourself!

Be prepared to make compromises

Image Credit: Hidde Rensink @rensink89 on Unsplash

Visions will clash, so you'll inevitably have to make some compromises along the way. Everyone must be on board with making these concessions; otherwise, things will quickly fall apart. It's crucial to focus on the elephant in the room, the vision of the company.

Embrace conflict. This may sound counterintuitive, but facing your issues straightforward can help you grow as an entrepreneur and a person. After any conflict, the binding between founders becomes stronger. Garry Tan, the founder of Posterous, said, "Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. But if you embrace it as part of working together and don't let it become personal, then I think you're going to be fine. If anything, conflict can make your relationship stronger."

In summary

The final thing to keep in mind when looking for co-founders? Make sure they share your commitment and dedication to the startup! Your co-funders should be willing to put in long hours, work hard, and stay positive even when things get tough. If you can find people who fit these criteria, then you're well on your way to finding success with your startup company!

So, these are just a few things to keep in mind when you're looking for co-founders. As long as you ask yourself the right questions and make sure everyone is on the same page, you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect team members for your startup! Good luck!

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