The most difficult search & first critical decision
There’s no doubt about it, if you’ve ever founded a startup, you know very well the first biggest challenge you have is finding the right co-founder/s to accomplish your mission.
It’s no coincidence team issues, especially between co-founders sits permanently at the top of the reasons why startups fail.
Choosing the right co-founder/s is the first and most important decision you make, and the one that’s probably going to have more weight dictating the future of your company.
Since most entrepreneurs are lost when looking for a co-founder, I wanted to share with you a simple and easy guide to make a great initial assessment of potential co-founders.
A simple, fast and honest analysis you can do
- Natural gifts — what you’re naturally good at.
- Learned skills — the skills you’ve learned & developed
- Things I suck at — what you’re not good at.
- Complementary skills — the missing skills needed in your startup.
The goal is to make a list of at least 10 items for the first 2 columns combined (natural gifts + learned skills), and another 10 items list for the ‘things I suck at’ column.
For the last column (complementary skills) you should list only the most critical skills you don’t have, but your startup needs.
Maybe not all the skills of the last column need to be filled by a co-founder, but it’s good to always be open to add someone passionate with complementary skills to your team.
A real example: analyzing myself
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of my entrepreneur profile:
- Problem solving — using creativity to solve the most complex challenges.
- Learning — my curiosity is insatiable and I absorb knowledge very fast.
- Long term vision — I focus on the whole picture and always think big.
- Analytical thinking — I easily process huge amounts of variables and data.
- Leadership — it has always felt natural to lead teams since I was a child.
- Decision making — making decisions under pressure and in uncertainty.
- Strategy — no matter the goal, I’ll develop the best strategy to crush it.
- Listening — I’ve always been the go to person for friends to confide.
- Empathy — I can easily feel the pain & suffering other people experience.
- Focus — I can shut down all senses & concentrate on the task at hand.
- Grit — it doesn’t matter how though the journey is, I never give up.
- Interviewing — mastered the skill after interviewing thousands of people.
- People potential — identify what someone will be capable of in the future.
- Match people — see what breaks and strengthens any type of relationship.
- Communicate with developers — critical for non-technical founders.
- Data acquisition — design efficient ways to obtain any data/information.
- Algorithms — develop algorithms to automate complex tasks/processes.
- Public speaking — a must have for every startup CEO.
- User/customer psychology & behavior — great for UX/UI design.
- Emotional connection — make other people feel emotions.
- Negotiation — how to get what I want without screwing the other person.
- Growth Hacking — product-market fit, growth mindset, retention…
- Build a brand — meaning, story, personality, visual identity, slogan….
- Product — designing, prototyping & building a new product from scratch.
- Details — pay attention to small details that could make a difference.
- Writing —a useful skill to communicate and enjoyable when practiced.
Things I suck at
- Getting up early in the morning — I couldn’t be more of a night owl.
- Names — I don’t know why, but I totally suck at remembering names.
- Networking events — I enjoy people, but feel overwhelmed at events.
- Small thinking — even when I try to force myself, I end up thinking big.
- Outbound sales — it drains my energy fast & it makes me feel miserable.
- Relax/disconnect — I’m a workaholic… making some improvements here.
- Doing easy, repetitive stuff — few things kill my drive faster than those.
- Irrationality — dealing with people making irrational decisions.
- Chaos — working with people with no sense of structure and clear goals.
- Inefficiency — I just can’t accept it, it drives me crazy.
- Ambition — working with people that lack any type of ambition.
- Confidence — most people with low confidence tend to dislike me.
- Outsider — I love feeling like an outsider, but it has its drawbacks.
- Have fun — I take work seriously & sometimes I forget to have some fun.
- Software development.
- Graphic design.
Assessing potential co-founders
Whether you recently met or you’ve known each other for years, the best way to evaluate a potential co-founder is doing an AMA (ask me anything).
For the AMA to work, everyone must be open and honest with each other.
It doesn’t matter how long it takes, all questions must be asked at this point.
That being said, here’s your quick guide to assess your potential co-founder:
- First, find people with the critical skills you don’t have (missing skills).
- Then check how many items from the first 3 columns you share.
- Finally, watch how many different skills/characteristics are on your lists.
- If similarities outnumber differences: I’m sorry, you’re not a good match.
- If differences equal or outnumber similarities: congratulations, let’s go!
Of course, co-founder relationships are very complex, but if you don’t have the help of an expert you can trust, this is a great template to help you start building the kickass team and company culture to accomplish your mission.
Feel free to ask any questions and/or share your own entrepreneur profile in the comments section below.
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