An article on Forbes last year noted that out of 28 million small businesses in the United States, 22 million of them are non-employers – these are businesses where the owner is self-employed with no additional payroll or employees.
As an aspiring entrepreneur, the question of whether or not to find a co-founder seems like a big deal. However, as the statistics reveal, to a major chunk of business owners out there, the absence of a co-founder is really not a deal-breaker.
Having said that, there are multiple scenarios where having a co-founder makes sense. Consider web-based product or service companies. Most of these businesses have two clearly distinctive roles – a technology role and a marketing role. The skills necessary to be successful in these roles are vastly different. As a result, it is quite common for businesses in such industries to have multiple co-founders.
So, how do you decide if you need a co-founder or not? Here are some questions to consider:
Does your business require multiple skills?
To put this in another way, are there multiple roles that need equal focus in your business? Consider a retail store business. Such a business requires someone to keep track of inventory, market the business, and deal with suppliers. But at a startup stage, none of these roles require more than a few hours everyday. You don’t really need a co-founder. On the other hand, if you are in the software making business, product development, and product marketing are two equally important roles that take up significant amount of time. Having a co-founder does make sense here.
Do you have compatibility issues?
Not everyone is cut out to launch a business with multiple co-founders. In the book, “How We Did It : 100 Entrepreneurs Share The Story Of Their Struggles & Life Experiences,” Jay Barnett, the owner of Australian startup Priority Pickup says, “Don’t go into partnership with anyone. No matter what else you may do wrong or right, friends and money don’t mix. It may seem like it is a heavy load to carry all yourself at first, but you will be better off in the long run. Get advice from as many people as you can (qualified people with proven results), but don’t go into partnership with anyone.”
Not everyone may relate to Jay’s point of view. It’s ultimately about how compatible you can be when running a business with a co-owner.
Are you looking at VC funding?
How do you plan to fund your startup? Are you looking venture capitalists? If the answer is yes, then you should go for a co-founder by all means. Venture capitalists bet on teams and rarely bet on individuals. The reason is simple – an individual owner could simply choose to walk away from the business, or meet with an accident some day and that could virtually end the business. With a team in place, one could be rest assured that what affects one individual in the team does not cause a major disruption to the overall business.
Have you found your partner?
Finding a co-founder can wait. But the success of failure of businesses are largely dependent on the time of launch. A startup that provides free SMSes to customers today may not really go big considering the advent of services like WhatsApp. Every business needs a right time and a right location to succeed. Let not the time fly past you while you are waiting for the perfect co-founder. If you are losing time, go ahead and launch the business yourself.
Do you have a co-founder for your business? What are your thoughts on this topic? Please do provide your feedback by commenting below.
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