5 must-answer questions to find the best business partner for your startup
Of course, first you need to decide: do you need a business partner? How's it going? Do you come up with interesting ideas? Do you cope with all current affairs on your own? Analyze everything. Yes, it will take some time. Same as in personal life, before starting a new business relationship, you need to weigh all the pros and cons.
The entrepreneurial path is always stressful, expensive and sometimes dull. Therefore, your desire to combine efforts with someone is quite natural. The ability to share all the worries with a partner is a good reason to find him. But are you ready to give up part of your capital and control? It all may seem insignificant at the very beginning, but as your business develops, you understand what it costs. On the other hand, without a good team, the chances of success are not so great. Let's try to understand this all, because only a couple of questions asked in time can help make the right choice.
Question 1: Why even bother?
While developing the product, the founder is somehow faced with a number of difficulties, which require endurance and mental stamina. It’s hard to go this way alone. There are several years of intensive work ahead: the creation of a prototype of the product, the search for investors, the debugging of production and the release of the first version. In an unstable atmosphere of a startup, a business partner will be very helpful, because he will not only share responsibilities, but also provide moral support. At the initial stage of development, the ratio of the founder to the project is cyclical. Activity and confidence are replaced by doubts and fears. In this case, the business partner may take on some of the initiatives and won’t allow optimism to leave the team.
Question 2: When to start looking?
The search for a like-minded person can begin from the moment the idea is born. The path from an idea to a prototype is a difficult one, so there should be a person nearby who really believes in what the work is on. How long this path will last is unknown. It can turn into long years if there is no business partner nearby who motivates and does not allow to delay another deadline.
In order to attract a person to the project, the founder must have a clear vision of the ultimate goal and know the steps to achieve it, and do it in the long run. Having found a business partner at the beginning of the project development, you can jointly think over the idea and its improvement, and also share responsibility and increase expertise. For these reasons, many accelerators - such as the iconic Y Combinator - generally do not accept applications from projects in which there is only one founder.
Question 3: Who is in charge?
The experience of world leaders shows that it can be difficult for two bosses to get along in one company. Let’s take Alphabet as an example: Larry Page - leader, Sergey Brin - company president. These are different roles. If you have a similar company structure, a 50/50 ratio is inappropriate. There are times when one works more than the other, and with equal shares, this can cause dissatisfaction and, in general, have a negative effect for a startup.
It is necessary either to divide the areas of responsibility, or to agree that one of the founders will have more authority (and responsibility). In any case, the separation must be transparent so that everyone knows their sphere of influence and agrees with their own role. Responsibilities should be divided at the stage of project registration in order to avoid duplication of roles and disagreements. There is a long-term motivation practice for the business partners, which is actively used by startups in the USA - vesting in stocks. The procedure helps not only minimize conflicts, but also correctly exit the business if for any reason a person leaves the project.
Question 4: O brother, where are you?
Common sense in every possible way discourages you from working with someone from family members or friends, since financial and managerial issues can really ruin your relationship. And in the end, you are left either without a business, or without a best friend. Although there are more than one thousand happy exceptions.
If you do not have anyone suitable, you have to do a search. Start with your environment: decide on your needs and maybe someone specific will come to mind. If you did not find such a person among your immediate environment, seek the advice of friends or colleagues with wide connections.
Do not focus only on your surroundings: attend specific conferences and events. If you are looking for a developer or engineer, do not forget to visit the "hot spots" of techno-erudites: hackathons, weekends and startup schools.
Question 5, and the most important: Is he the one?
A business partnership, especially between friends, can start funny and exciting, but in a short period of time the routine will overtake you. If your business partner is not as committed as you are, he may lose his enthusiasm and actually harm the project every time he takes up something.
In a perfect world, the skills of business partners should complement each other. In the modern startup ecosystem, there is a scheme of creative couples: designer and programmer, business developer and engineer. In addition, there is the so-called classic “configuration” of Silicon Valley: Hacker, Hustler and Hipster. That is, the work is carried out in three areas: hacker is responsible for software, hipster - for design, hustler is engaged in marketing.
Do not look for a business partner among people with narrow specialization. At the initial stage, a product idea can change direction several times. If professionalism and the ability to be a leader are put on the scales, the second outweighs. You can not be a specialist in any field, but be resourceful. Just remember that Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of Twitter, has a secondary education. And the last: pay attention to the life principles and values of the business partner: here you should be like twin brothers.
Evan Carmichael will tell you the same. Evan is a Canadian entrepreneur, speaker, business consultant, and author of books. At the age of 19, he founded a biotechnology company, which he later sold profitably. Evan currently runs Evan Carmichael Communications Group, a company dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and developing PR strategies for social networks. Check out his vlog, there are many interesting things!
Finally, we give you one more practical advice. Having found the right person, you may want to know each other better first, and only then start something serious. Having not worked with a partner for several years, you cannot say that you know him for sure. However, there are certain points thanks to which you can predict: will you be able to spend time and build a business with this person. Startups are always stress and tension, so you should "recreate the atmosphere" close to the routine work environment.
For example, check your partnerships at the weekend of startups, in which the air is always saturated with new solutions and nervousness. Meet with each other's friends, get together and plan something large-scale, work on a small project. But NEVER let the emotions of starting a new business dazzle you. You must observe how this person works, thinks, makes decisions, endures conflicts, seeks a way out and cooperates with you, and only then decide on cooperation. At any stage of creating a startup, cold calculation is preferable to enthusiasm, although ideally you need to keep a balance. And our other startup development materials will help you with this, check them out!