What it Takes to Become a Co-Founder
Are you looking for a co-founder to realize a business idea? I believe that quite a few people (myself included) love the idea of working with others in an exciting small business environment, spending their days doing what they love while creating a great organization. To do this you need a great team consisting of committed and highly skilled individuals. How do you get such people aboard your own start-up?
Your first step is to understand your own core competencies. How can you contribute something valuable to the business? Some relevant core competencies for a tech start-up are the following;
Great design makes an average site look outstanding. Great design sells. There are a lot of people out there calling themselves web designers, but there’s a smaller number with proven records.
Marketing and Sales
Good understanding of highly specialized marketing methods such as Search Engine Optimization as well as telemarketing and other guerrilla marketing methods are vital for putting your final product out on the market.
It takes some humility to go through an honest evaluation of your own skill levels, but you need it to understand what sort of quality you will be able to attract for your start-up. If you don’t live up to the standards you would like to see in your co-founders you better spend some more time developing your own skills.
There is however one way you can partly compensate for not having other skills, and that’s by opening your wallet. A lot of start-ups need investors more than anything else. If that’s an option for you and you are willing to take the risk, I would imagine that quite a few start-ups would welcome you with open arms.
This Is a Good Time to Start a Business
Some people look at the current economic climate thinking that this is the worst possible time to start a new business. Fortunately some people think differently. Apparently General Electric, Microsoft and CNN were all founded during times of economic crisis in the U.S. I found a really interesting article in Cincy Magazine about this that you can read here. So why would you consider this a good time to start a business?
More Hiring Options
If the big corporations are hiring fewer people it will be easier for you to get people aboard a start-up project. A major part of the workforce would in most circumstances prefer to work for a big and safe employer, but if that option isn’t available then working for a start-up is certainly better than not working at all. In other words you will have more options available for a better price.
Money Saving (and Making) Services are Needed
Provided that you are in the kind of business that creates financial value for other businesses, the crisis can be an argument on it’s own for why clients should buy your services. When times are tough other businesses need outstanding advertising and cost efficient IT services more than ever. Make sure to put forward the financial gains the clients will get from buying your products or services.
Cash Management Efficiency
Starting a business when there there is no abundance of capital on the market means that you will need to learn efficient cash management. Having the right mindset in relations to cash management will boost your performance when the good times are back again. It’s more difficult to learn the right habits and processes to properly handle a decrease in cash-flow if you are used to abundance. You can find more about cash management for entrepreneurs on Entrepreneur.com here.
Don’t let the negative headlines affect your spirit. We need creative thinkers to help turn the current crisis into something positive.
The Critical Start-Up Skill: Restoring Momentum
Business start-ups, as well as many other organizational projects, might at some stage reach a point where the momentum is lost and there is stagnation in the progress. Deadlines are breached, email responses take longer, you start hearing excuses for why things can’t be done in time and fewer new initiatives are taken.
If you are not blessed with an exceptionally self-driven team there is a big chance that you will see this happen sooner or later when trying to get a business going. When this happens you need to recognize the signs and take immediate action as it’s a critical moment for the success of your start-up project.
Keep in mind that when stagnation is reached it’s often due to group psychology and the state of the team, not due to real-world fundamentals on which the project also depends. Below I have listed what I believe are three main reasons for why motivation is lost and stagnation reached.
Doubt About the Viability of the Business Idea
Believing that there is a true value in what the business will deliver is critical for staying motivated. If no real value is delivered there will be no long-term success.
The Vision of the Future is Blurred
Some or all team members find it difficult to envision how the project will develop in the short or long-term future, something that is critical for keeping the motivation to invest time and resources.
No Feeling of Overall Ownership
One of the most common reasons for people to start their own businesses is a desire for meaningful contribution or real ownership of the project (something employees of larger organizations are often starved of). When a start-up project is launched all team members have an overall insight in the project, but this can be lost with time as each member works on individual task lists.
To turn things around when reaching the very critical moment of stagnation you need to do the following:
1. Face reality and understand the importance of the situation
If no action is taken the project will inevitably die a slow death.
2. Get things straight for yourself
What is the exact value the business will provide and have discoveries made since the launch of the project changed any of this? What is the vision of the future for the business as you see it? It’s extremely important that you believe in the core idea yourself to be able to communicate that belief to the rest of the team.
3. Get your team together and talk through it
Make sure to approach this meeting differently from regular follow-up meetings. People need to feel that it’s a meeting that creates a fundamental change in the state of the project. Go through the fundamentals beliefs on which the business is based and show supporting facts for those beliefs. Ask questions and make sure to get a 100% clear understanding of what the current status is of each part of the project. Agree on exactly what needs to be done to move things forward to the next level and agree on milestones for the short-term future.
A lot of what’s needed to really make this change happen can’t be described in writing, but it’s about your personal passion and engagement. If you realize how to turn it around and get things rolling again you have learned one of the most important things for the success of any start-up project.
How to Pick a Co-Founder
As discussed in my last post, there are many potential benefits coming from starting a business together with a co-founder. However, to get these benefits you need to pick the right people to work with. I believe some of the most important qualities to look for are:
This is probably the most fundamental part in any sort of collaboration. You need to feel that the people you are working with are decent people with good intentions. Listen not only to what people are saying, but also trust your general feeling for what kind of person you are dealing with. If you feel as if you need to start off your project by writing a contract it’s not a good sign.
You want to work with people who are really into the business you are planning on creating. I believe that this passion needs to be based not only on the prospect of making money, but also on a genuine interest in what you sell or in how your business will change the world.
Being a big coffee lover will probably help you in starting a cafe. Realizing how your software can help people in poor countries developing new skills and change their lives might keep you motivated to do some late-night coding.
You should ask why your potential business partner is looking to start a company. Knowing your personal purpose and reasons makes it a lot easier to keep passion and motivation on a good level while going through challenges, and that’s something you want from your co-founder as well as yourself.
You want to work with people who are able to get stuff done. People might do this in different ways. Personally I like to create routines and procedures which I stick to without any exceptions, and I can keep on adding new useful routines as time goes by. You might for example schedule one hour every day for coding, then add 30 minutes for daily development of your prospect list, then add another hour for daily sales calls. You might not see big progress from the start, but as the ball starts rolling you can achieve great long-term results.
Other people might prefer to run intensive sessions and to take big steps forward on a less regular basis. I think which way you choose is a lot about personal style. The important thing is to see that stuff gets done. If your co-founder is notoriously failing to deliver what you have agreed on you might
want to move on and find somebody else.
The Benefits of Finding a Co-Founder for Your Business Start-Up
Do you want to get your own business going? Maybe you are in the start-up process already? Are you doing it alone? If you are, you might want to consider finding a co-founder. There are many potential benefits coming from working with a co-founder rather than on your own. Some of these are:
We are all fundamentally social creatures, and our outstanding ability to communicate and collaborate is exactly what enabled mankind to dominate the world. All the most extraordinary company start-ups, such as Microsoft and Apple, were made successful by people working in teams. If you believe that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got these businesses going on their own you might want to do some Googling and look at the background of these companies. Make sure to really facilitate the development of a great teamwork spirit by meeting up to discuss progress, brainstorm new ideas, as well as just getting work done.
Although you might be a smart person with a great ability to pick up new skills, you can still gain a lot from letting people with already proven skills handle tasks outside your area of expertise. It enables you to get a stronger focus on the area where you already are the expert, or give you more time to develop the skills necessary to cover areas which your team members are not covering now. A very important aspect is also that you this way ensure that the product or service delivered live up to the quality expectations of your customers.
Push for Progress
It’s a lot easier to postpone deadlines and tasks when you have only yourself to report to, while having people awaiting your results can give you an extra push to get things done in time. However, be careful with how you push each other forward, as in a typical start-up nobody is working for the other person, but you are all working together as a team. In other words, don’t chase each other, but keep a positive tone and understand that you all might be working in very different conditions.