It’s possible to build a startup on your own, but research shows that you’re more likely to succeed when you have a business partner than when you don’t.
For technical founders, getting a business partner that fills the skills gap expertise that you lack is huge for the success of the company. These skills could include things like building sales and marketing teams, finance and contract law. Having a co-founder with the skills you lack is like creating the perfect business dream team to scale your business idea.
But how do you identify and pick the right business partner?
Why Technical Founders Have a Hard Time Finding a Business Partner
A business co-founder has extremely wide responsibilities, most of which depend on the technical founder’s management style and projected business operating model. They also participate in decision making processes together with the technical founder.
By definition, a non-technical co-founderdoesn’t have the technical expertise as that of theirtechnical counterpart, so they may not understand all the requirements needed to implement the idea. Plus, they may not know how a project team should be constituted and how much time to allocate to product development.
Ideally, a business partner should be able to invest some of their own resources in the project or idea. Plus, they should be trustworthy, able to bring more ideas, business expertise, and time into the company.
Together with the technical founder, a business partner is also responsible for the business as a whole and accepts business risks that comes with any startup.
So, what makes it hard for technical founders to find the right business partner? Here are the top reasons:
- Uncertainty about why you need a business partner
- Your business idea isn’t clear or finalized
- You only want to share the commitment and responsibility
- You lack long-term plans and strategy
How to Pick a Business Partner
Picking the right business partner may be the most important decision of your company’s entire history.
To help you with that, here’s a list of factors that’ll help you evaluate potential business partners and find the right person for your company.
Your business partner should buy into your central vision for the business you’re starting. Their main motivations for joining your venture should be a shared vision for the company’s mission statement, otherwise the business won’t succeed.
Curiosity and Passion
Curiosity and passion are critical factors as they show that the person is compelled to solve the problem.
Find someone with a deep passion and determination in the problem they’re solving rather than in what they’re doing.
Meet with the potential partners on several occasions. Look for evidence that they’ve grappled with the problem and feel compelled to solve it beyond the confines of your meetings.
A shared passion for the problem drives them to persist and helps you scale your business.
Too often, people focus on the hard skills they want a business partner to possess. As the technical founder, your role would be to define the product’s features and functionality, evaluate developer talent to hire and manage the product vision for the company moving forward.
When choosing a business partner, you need to remember that this person will visibly represent your company internally and externally.
Look for soft skills like resilience, confidence, humility, empathy, communication, team building and problem solving. This way, you can find the person who embodies the culture you want to create.
Your goal is to diversify skills aligned with the core competencies you need for the company to succeed.
At the end of the day, you want to find a business partner with a personality that you like. Otherwise, all the other great qualities they possess won’t sustain you through the long haul.
Plus, you’re going to spend lots of time together, so you want to pick someone you’re compatible with – who believes in the values and culture you’d like to establish.
Look for a person who, like a “gravity well” can draw more talent and create a team to build the company with high velocity.
At one stage or another in your startup or company, things will get tough. You’ll have a “down” day even if you’re relentless and passionate.
You can’t always show your team that you’re having a bad day. However, you should be able to communicate that to your business partner and they should buoy you through the storm.
It would be great if the things that make you feel low don’t faze your business partner as much. This way, you can both be there for each other when needed.
Comfortable in Their Own Skin
Fear, ego and insecurity can kill your partnership. A great business partner is comfortable in their own skin and knows themselves well. This saves you from having frequent conflicts over your roles and responsibilities.
Find the Right Business Partner
A business partner is an asset but finding the right one for your startup or company can be a challenge. Knowing what to look for can help you find someone who believes in your vision as much as you do because business is better with a buddy.