This post was inspired by an article I read recently in VentureBeat, with the same title, "3 Things to Look for When Choosing Your Co-Founders". It's quite eerie and amazing, again, how similar the three things you look for when choosing your co-founder for your business, aka the person you will go into business with – are to the things you ought to look for when choosing the co-founder for your own family and your future, a.k.a. the person you will grow your family with.
1. Choose a “friend” – not because they are your friend, but because they have the right combination of absolute loyalty to you and the team, and die hard trustworthiness and trust in you and the team. Faith. Commitment. When the tough get rough, the bank is in the red and the world seems to be against you, will they stand by you? Will they stick up for you? Trust is an absolute must-have and without it, a deal breaker. Take the time to get to know the person, grow the relationship and the trust.
2. Choose your mirror, not your clone – choose a co-founder with the right combination of skills that complement you and the team. Finding the right combination of skills to complement you – now that’s tricky. You do not want another clone of you – you want someone who has strengths that are your weaknesses, who has some different skills/interests/hobbies than you, with a different way of taking in and processing information, with opinions that add value – AND with the same vision and values as you/the team, of course. If you don’t have the same vision/values – do not proceed.
3. Live in the same city – you have to. As co-founders of a business, you are planting the seeds and the foundation for that future company. So much is lost when you are not spending time face-to-face not only in meetings, but spending quality time bonding (beers, drinks, other sorts of 'hanging out'). And, as they say, something like 70-80% of communication is non-verbal – it’s the facial expressions, the human touch, the body language, eye contact… This one really matters, so don't think that instant messages and Skype-ing will work. Someone’s got to move before you can really start this venture.
Like I wrote before, when someone asks to go into business with you, it’s like a marriage proposal. Think, do I trust this person? Do they trust me? Will they be loyal to me? Do we respect each other? Do they share the same values and vision as me? Does their skill set and strengths complement mine? … and just, do I like this person as a person, a friend, a colleague,… a companion?