If you’re a brand new entrepreneur, it may be a good idea to pursue your first startup with a partner instead of going solo. Having a partner can strengthen your business insights, audience reach, and overall skill set. Running a new business can be an overwhelming and daunting task for an inexperienced entrepreneur. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you find the right partner for your business.
Consider What Traits You Value
You’ll likely want a partner that you can identify with on a personal and professional level. But, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t try to find a duplicate of yourself in terms of skill set, work values, and experience. One area to look for in a business partner is how their skill sets differ from yours. Consider your hard and soft skills, then look for someone who has complementary abilities to your own. For example, maybe one of your weaknesses is budget management. If that’s the case, look for someone who is good with numbers and can forecast expenses.
Additionally, think about the kinds of traits that are crucial to thriving in a startup environment. You’ll want a partner who shows enthusiasm for your idea, is open-minded, trustworthy, and comfortable with risk and ambiguity. Keep these values in mind as you send feelers to potential partners.
Utilize Your Environment and Resources
During college, it’s important to network with your professors and classmates, especially when deciding to pursue a new business venture. Many large companies had small beginnings in college dorm rooms. Take the instant needs company Gopuff’s founders for example. Rafael Ilishayev and his co-founder Yakir Gola met in their freshman year at Drexel University. The two were enrolled in the same Business 101 class and went on to establish GoPuff a year later, making the first several thousand deliveries on their own. You could also meet your potential partner outside of the classroom. Attending local or online networking events, conferences or webinars is a beneficial way to meet new people. Consider becoming a member of a professional business community like IEEE. These groups are composed of like-minded individuals that you may be able to connect with and find your partner or team members.
If you’re using online resources for scouting, make sure your profiles are updated as this will be your first impression to prospective partners. LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to start a conversation with your existing network or grow it. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and engage in conversations online! You might end up finding your partner in a chat forum or through a mutual connection.
Ask the Right Questions
Let’s say you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve found someone you could see yourself working with. There are a few questions you’ll want to ask this person before making the jump of offering them a co-founder title. Here’s a short list of questions that you can use for reference or to help brainstorm more questions of your own:
1. How much time are you willing to commit to this startup?
2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
3. What responsibilities are you comfortable with?
4. Where do you see yourself and this business in the next 1-2 years?
5. What is your vision for yourself and this business in the next 3-5 years?
6. What is your communication style? Your leadership style?
7. How do you handle conflicts that arise?
Asking these questions will help you paint a better picture of what working with your candidate will be like, so make sure to be thorough during this process. Finding the right person to begin a startup with rarely happens overnight. Take your time to get to know your prospective partner before asking them to formally join your team. Ultimately, make sure you’re not only choosing a partner you can trust and rely on, but also someone you can see creating success alongside this new venture.