What to Look for in a Business Co-Founder

by Craig Anthony

2 min read

While there are pros and cons to having a co-founder, choosing a co-founder is like choosing a lifelong mate. Your business’s success may depend on who you select. Find out what to look for in a co-founder.

Complementary Skill Sets

Define your particular skill sets, and look for a co-founder who can bring complementary skills to the table. Complementary skill sets are widely considered to be the most important attribute of a co-founder. A successful business needs to take advantage of knowledge in several fields; its leadership should be able to access technical, operational, financial, business development, and sales and marketing skills. If you already possess the technical skills for your business – for example, if you are a computer programmer – look for a co-founder who has the other essential skills to make the business thrive. If you are financial person who has no idea how to engineer a product, find an engineer co-founder.

Complete Honesty and Transparency

You and your co-founder will be creating, growing, and nurturing the business. Typically, co-founders spend more time together than they do with their actual families, so it is important to have open and honest communication. No deception can occur, and no mistakes can be hidden. If you are not completely comfortable with the co-founder candidate’s level of honesty, integrity, and transparency, follow your gut – it won’t be the right person. Failure to ignore this may result in the failure of your business.

An Alignment of the Business’s Vision and Values

Make sure that your co-founder has the same vision for the company’s path as you do. Nothing will wreck a business sooner than one founder wanting one end goal and another co-founder wanting another end goal. The path of the business must be clearly defined and agreed upon, or else it is doomed to fail. Beyond sharing a vision for the company’s overall direction, you and your co-founder must share equal or similar values to maximize the chances of success. As an extreme example, imagine a factory startup where one co-founder prioritizes waste reduction to help the environment, while the other cares less about this and produces however much waste is necessary to incrementally gain some other business benefits. This partnership will likely see bumpy roads.

A Commitment to Constant Learning and Improvement

The startup world is extremely difficult, and most new business fail within months or a few years. Since there are many jobs that need to be learned and multiple hats that must be worn, you and your co-founder need to be constantly working toward improving your business knowledge and skills. A lackadaisical or intellectually complacent co-founder will likely lead to company failure rather quickly. Ensure that your co-founder has a massive amount of energy and motivation to learn new things that will directly impact the business.

References & Resources

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