Looking for a co-founder? Don’t make these regrettable mistakes

Whether you’ve already launched a startup or are still in the planning phase, as a visionary, you have big plans for your business.

Until now, you’ve been a team of one.

But you’re beginning to wonder if you alone can bring your vision to life.

Let’s face it.

Being a sole founder is a lonely journey. No one to bounce ideas off. No one to split the workload with. And no one to share the mental load. 

With a co-founder, you can collaborate on solutions and make critical decisions more easily.

Plus, by finding a partner who is complementary in their temperament, approach, and skill set, you can set the foundations for a well-rounded team.

So, is teaming up with a co-founder the best option?

It’s not a simple decision.

Because finding the right person as your co-founder can be a challenging process.

Get it wrong, and you could end up with someone too similar to you, with the same blindspots. Or your polar opposite, who could be challenging to compromise with and build a workable relationship.

But get it right, and you’ll become a duo that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Of course, a co-founder must also be willing to make the leap from where they are now – perhaps a secure and well-paying job – to a high-risk venture with no guarantees.

In other words, finding a co-founder who ticks all the boxes AND is fully committed and prepared to put in the long hours won’t be easy.

Here’s how to give yourself the best chance of success. 

The first step starts with you.

You need to be clear on your expectations for the company and how these line up with your business and personal goals.

Think about your own working style, the type of role you’ll have, and what role you expect your co-founder to take. You’ll also need to define your non-negotiables and the likely forms of compensation (i.e. salary, equity, sweat equity).

Because if you don’t know how you want the partnership to function, choosing the right co-founder will be virtually impossible.

Be sure you play the devil’s advocate, too.

Consider your communication style and how you’ll resolve potential differences with a co-founder. And how you might manage things if one of you has a life-changing event that impacts the company.

The second step is to find your pool of prospects.

They may be people you know from university or work, or who you’ve connected with at a professional networking event.

You can also find people through a matching service, such as LinkedIn, or people past colleagues or advisers have introduced you to.

The last step – and the one that’ll take the most time – is doing your due diligence before making a final decision.

This is when you consider each prospective co-founder and assess:

  • How well you’ll work together and complement each other
  • Whether you have a shared vision for the company
  • Whether you can both commit a similar number of work hours
  • How and when you’ll make decisions about company equity

Then, with your co-founder decision made, it’s all smooth sailing from here, right?

Well, it can be this simple.

But only if you can recognise and avoid the common pitfalls of pairing up with a co-founder.

Here are 3 of the biggest mistakes we see founders make:

  • Handing equity over to their newly chosen co-founder too early, before testing their working relationship.
  • Not negotiating the distribution of equity when one partner cannot commit the same amount of time to the company (i.e. one has a full-time job and the other doesn’t) – check out the book, Slicing Pie by Mike Moyer, for simple ways to manage this.
  • Overlooking unrealistic expectations, such as if one founder overinvests with software developers because they believe you’ll be able to build and launch an MVP in six months, while the other founder is committed to starting with customer discovery over a longer timeframe.

Most importantly, don’t rush into finding a co-founder.

After all, you’re looking for the one person who’ll help you bring your business dream to life.

When you take the time to find the right partner, you’ll discover someone who will embody your vision with the same passion and drive as you.

If you’re a founder on the hunt for a great co-founder and want some help selecting the right person, we can help. Fill out this short questionnaire, and we’ll get in touch to help you with your next steps.


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how we can help you.

If you’ve got a startup idea, or you’ve already embarked on your journey – you might be facing one or both of these situations.

  1. You’re struggling while going it alone. Worse, you’re wading in the muddy waters of some not-so-great advice.
  2. Perhaps you’re trying to raise capital for your startup and you’re hitting a dead end. Raising capital is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Globally, only 0.74% of startups manage to raise capital at Seed stage. Despite this, 16% of startups we’ve worked with were able to raise capital at Seed stage.

If you’re ready to step up and get the help you need, our Startup Builder™ program was created especially for you.

The Startup Builder™ process is specifically designed to take you all the way from idea to global success – in a way that’s simple, sustainable, and scalable.

If you’re ready to grow your revenue, profit, and social impact faster without wasting time and money on the wrong things at the wrong time, click here to request your Startup Builder™ Strategy Session.


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