How to find the perfect co-founder

Be Kaler has worked with startups for the past 15 years and is co-founder of FutureHeads Recruitment. In her first column she explains her top tips for finding the perfect business partner.

Find the perfect match

If you have a great business idea, it’s only a matter of time before you may want to find a partner or a co-founder to get things moving. Someone to bounce ideas off and help to move your startup in the right direction.

Better to be alone than mismatched

It’s important not to be alone, having someone you can have a celebratory or commiserative pint with at the end of the day is not essential but can soften the blow, or increase the high of a good day.

However, it is better to be alone than mismatched – alignment and passion for the same product, design, culture is the difference between a happy and stressful partnership.

Finding the wrong business partner for you can be stressful, not to mention difficult to untangle yourself from. The next few points lean towards my 15 years of recruitment experience to ensure you don’t just trust your gut, but to also do your due diligence.

Define the roles

Work out clear definitions of what each other’s roles and responsibilities will be. Make sure each of you are happy with these responsibilities and you have clear understanding of each other’s expectations on delivery. If you can, show each other samples or systems of how you have worked before.

Some people like to start work early and finish in time to pick up their kids; some roles demand that you are networking late into the evening

Understand each other’s working patterns and check in on goals regularly. There has to be a mutual respect and some open mindedness.

Some people like to start work early and finish in time to pick up their kids; some roles demand that you are networking late into the evening.

Iron out finer details about what is expected and preferred in the outset.

Do your homework

Spend lots of time with someone before going into business with them. Lots of people move too quickly in excitement, but spending just a few scheduled hours together talking pure work and presenting ideas and work to each other can be really helpful.

My experience of interviewing tells me that if something is annoying in your meetings, it will only get magnified and louder so you need to be able to have a conversation around any concerns you have.

Finally, don’t be frightened of collecting references and asking if you can speak to people who your potential co-founder has worked with before.

Use this as your final tactic so that you can address any final concerns and perhaps significant questions around experiences and potential scenarios.

image credit: flickr/luke hayfield