Picking the right co-founder could be the most important decision you make as an entrepreneur.
You will need to know that your co-founder will have your back no matter what. Tweet This Quote
Like every other form of matchmaking, a plethora of co-founder dating sites has recently sprung up along with an endless parade of experts offering their advice—all to help you make the right choice.
Clearly, complementary personalities, skill sets and networks are all important, as is a shared passion for the idea you’re launching. But starting a new venture is more like having a baby than going on a few dates.
This is especially true if you’re starting a social venture, which unlike profit-maximizing endeavors, will have few viable exits. You’re in it for the long haul, and it will likely be one of the most exhausting, stressful, rewarding and fulfilling experiences you’ll ever have.
Starting a new venture is more like having a baby than going on a few dates. Tweet This Quote
Regardless of how you find your future co-founder, take your time to get to know them. Before you make your final decision, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Can you trust their judgment and intentions, without question?
You will disagree with your co-founder, and you will be sure that you have the right answer. You need to trust your partner’s judgement on the things they’re responsible for, even if you don’t agree with a specific choice or decision. Otherwise, you might as well do everything yourself, and carry all the worry and stress that goes along with it.
Sooner or later, you will make mistakes and drop the ball, and your team members and investors will pay for it. Hopefully a little, maybe a lot. You will need to know that your co-founder will have your back no matter what, and that their intentions will be pure as they try to help set things right. Otherwise, you will feel no less alone (and possibly more paranoid) than if you were going it alone.
Picking the right co-founder could be the most important decision you make as an entrepreneur. Tweet This Quote
2. Can you imagine spending every waking hour with them for weeks and months on end?
Even if your co-founder is polished and seemingly perfect, eventually you’ll see their human flaws. Given the many perfect storms of stress and fatigue you’ll be going through, those flaws will only get amplified. You’ll need to respect and enjoy the person deeply enough to get through the rough patches and still look forward to spending another tough day together. Otherwise, the relationship could easily sour, and your venture will undoubtedly suffer.
3. Can you see yourselves sharing a good laugh (or cry) when times get really tough?
We’ve all heard the failure speech. It’s inevitable as an entrepreneur, and a matter of when, not if. It’s a great experience to go through, if you’re able to learn and grow as a result. It’s a badge of honor to carry with pride, especially if it propels you to future success.
Having a co-founder who isn’t going to panic when the ship seems to be sinking is critical. Tweet This Quote
Sure, but that’s easier said than done. We all need help seeing past the dire reality of early failures in a start-up—especially in a social venture where no one is going to pay for your pivots. Having a co-founder who isn’t going to panic when the ship seems to be sinking is critical, but so too is having someone with whom you can enjoy a good, cathartic laugh (or cry). That’s probably the best medicine to help you accept the reality you’re in and to start finding your way out.
A version of this post originally published on UNREASONABLE.is in September 2013. It has been updated to inspire further conversation.