One way to find co-founders for a start-up is by advertising on online boards and networking sites. To find out which respondents to pick for face-to-face meetings some of the standard recruitment questions will be very useful. First have a quick look at the candidate’s CV and make sure his or her skills are relevant to your business, then pick the phone up and find out about the candidate’s availability, location and track-record.
Are you currently working or unemployed? Are you involved in other start-up projects as well?
You need to find somebody willing to invest full-time in your start-up, which probably means 8-12 hours a day. In relations to availability you might want to ask about personal commitments as well, such as children or other dependents. I would however recommend asking more personal questions at the face-to-face meeting.
Where are you currently located?
Working next to each other in an office gives a great boost to productivity and morale. Some distance start-ups have been very successful, they are however exceptions. If you are living in the same city you should consider renting office space as soon as you have decided to work together.
Do you have a portfolio showing previous work?
You don’t want to spend time and effort on meeting up face-to-face and then realize that the candidate’s previous performance isn’t living up to your basic standards. Even students with no work experience should have personal portfolios proving their skills.
Make sure to ask the above questions, spend less time on time-wasters, and spend more time on getting the best co-founders aboard.
1: Invest Time, Energy and Imagination
When running a small business or a start-up you probably don’t have the resources to use much traditional marketing such as TV or Print. However, what you do have is (hopefully) time, energy and imagination that can be used for gathering detailed customer data, writing personal emails, and keeping detailed records of each prospect interaction. Make sure to take advantage of this in when communicating with prospects and customers as it can make you stand out from bigger competitors.
2: Focus on Your Customers’ Needs
It’s easy to get emotionally attached to a business idea that you have come up with yourself. That’s perfectly fine as long as your idea is a perfect fit for your customers’ needs. However, the customers only care about how your solution will help them reach their own goals, while the source of the idea has no relevance whatsoever. You need to be willing to change or let go of your original idea whenever a new one comes around that will better serve your customers.
3: Start Dialogues
If you are running your own business you probably have some sort of expertise that is valuable for others. Use this to start real dialogues with actors on the relevant market. You can use for example websites, blogs or newsletters to provide valuable information, share opinions and start real conversations about interesting topics. The key is content. Be genuine and provide real value.
4: Stay in Touch
It’s a lot easier and cheaper to sell something to an existing customer than to get a new one aboard. Keep track of your customer records to make sure subscriptions and contracts are renewed, and that new products or services are introduced to existing customers before approaching more expensive new prospects.
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.
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.
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.