9 Qualities To Look For When Choosing A Co-founder For Your Start-up

Your co-founder needs to be an expert in the industry, have complementary skill sets, be self-sufficient, completely honest & trustworthy

Seeing your business grow from scratch is the most amazing feeling, but it requires lots of responsibilities, especially if it is a start-up. Your startup needs to function like a well-oiled machine and it can be done once it has a co-founder.

A co-founder plays a very important role in maintaining the growth of your organization, that is why selecting the right person for the job is crucial. The wrong co-founder can jeopardize your entire business. You need someone willing to deliver the same level of dedication for the business and not someone who is only in it for the monthly salary.

You and your Co-founder need to be in sync to make sure your start-up runs smoothly.

Benefits Of Having A Co-founder

You may have your team, but having the right co-founder helps you generate better ideas and can also fill your absence when needed.

Your co-founder is expected to be equally skillful and be able to help you in making accurate decisions.

Now almost every business has an online and offline sector. If you are better at observing the overall progress, then make sure your co-founder is someone with better technical expertise. This allows you to cover all possible knowledge gaps and create more effective development goals.

The best way to find a co-founder will be in places like StartHawk or LinkedIn.

9 Things To Look For In A Co-founder

Naturally, finding the right co-founder will take some time. But when you are on the search, look for the following 9 characteristics in your potential co-founder.

1. Find Someone In The Same Industry

For starters, you need to find someone in the same industry with sufficient knowledge. It is even better if he/she knows about your company and has done proper research.

Share your knowledge about the industry and ask for their view to get a better idea about where they stand.

Working with someone who knows the ins and outs of the industry and project, means the person is ambitious enough to gain knowledge about it and also has plans that may intrigue you.

2. Check If Your Motivation Aligns

Ask your potential co-founder to lay out all his thoughts, opinions, goals, and ideas. This helps you to understand the person both personally and professionally.

If you know your co-founders’ true motive, then you can better understand the context of his ideas, decisions, and plans for your business and analyze if they are beneficial for long-term plans or just short term monetary value.

Your motivations for the company have to align in a way that both of you would want to see each other succeed.

3. Communication Needs To Be Brutally Honest

It is extremely difficult to find someone who agrees with all your opinions but remember; you are not looking for a subordinate, rather you are looking for someone who can challenge your ideas, opinions and even offer constructive solutions.

You and your co-founder need to be completely honest yet professional with each other when dealing with sensitive matters about the company.

There will be times where one may not like the other’s approaches or ideas. In that case, always give priority towards the betterment of the business t.

Communication is key, but honesty is what drives communication.

4. Complementary Skill Sets

If you are a finance expert, then you probably will not need someone with basic knowledge of excel. Hire someone who has better experience in the field you lack.

If you are good with tech, then you need someone who has a better idea to sell them in the market and create sale strategies. This way you can enhance your business’s growth.

Even if you and your co-founder both have the main primary skillset,  one of you needs to have a secondary skill set. You do not need a duplicate version of yourself.

For instance, if your startup is highly technical and if you are an expert engineer, your co-founder should be well versed in R&D. Picking someone completely different will also create conflicts in decision-making.

If you are focused on technology and choose a co-founder who has expertise solely in top-shelf management, then that may be a bad combination.

5. Strong Spirit & Emotionally Connected

There are bad days in every sector. If you are running a startup, then there will be even more uncertainties.

Having breakdowns is natural but you can not show your emotional downside to your employees because it will affect the entire team spirit but you should be able to open up to your co-founder.

Your co-founder should be someone with a strong spirit who will not feel disheartened with a few bad news, and you have to be the same.

Emotional buoyancy is extremely important so you can back up each other during tough times. It should feel like you have a telepathic connection.

Work can often create anxiety and harm your mental health. If you are not in the right mental state, you cannot make the right decisions or worse, be taken advantage of.

6. Self Sufficient

As a co-founder, he/she almost has similar roles and responsibilities that differ greatly from your other employees or subordinates. You have seniority over your co-founder, but he/she should not be fully dependent on you.

Your co-founder is a completely different entity in the company and should act like it. They should be able to think on their own and make quick decisions for the benefit of the company.

Every employee should be self-sufficient, but your co-founder is free to be self-independent and always has to maintain that role. So that even when you are absent, everything runs smoothly.

7. Completely Trustworthy

This goes without saying, if your partner is not honest, then he does not deserve a place in the company. Other employees do not play such significant roles in a startup like a co-founder and can easily be replaced.

But if your co-founder is dishonest, then it can tarnish the reputation of the entire company.

The foundation of your working relation builds on trust, he can be trustworthy enough to get the job done. It is natural to have trust issues in the workplace, but it is detrimental if it is between you and your co-founder since figuratively he is the embodiment of half of your company.

Trust issues also decrease productivity. If you can not trust the person to do a good job, then you will probably do it yourself. Personal mistakes are just like a waste of time, energy, money & resources.

8. A Friend Outside Of Work

A friend is someone who you like, trust, and count on. Your co-founder needs to have all these characteristics. If you dislike that person then all the other traits will not matter since you will most likely never be in sync.

Starting and running start-ups take more time than established businesses. Meaning, you will spend a long time with your co-founder. Even more time than your family.

If he/she has a personality you dislike then we are sorry to say, things will not work out.

9. Previous Work History

Throughout your career, you may have worked with many people. You can choose someone from your previous or existing colleague. If you have a previous work history, then you know all the pros and cons of hiring them.

This also helps to save time and resources. If you have collaborated with someone and had positive results, then that person could be chosen.

You will not know everything about the person after hiring till things get difficult. If your co-founder is someone with whom you have shared a cubicle before, then you will know what to expect.

Red Flag In Choosing Your Co-founder

There are some classic red flags for every recruitment. But when hiring a co-founder, you have to be extra careful.

1. Faulty Past Records

Check their previous work history to see if they have any ugly break-ups with their previous business partners. Find out if they are easy to work with.

Co-founders, who often chase after short-time glory, are notoriously hard to work with for the long-term. They are also comfortable liars. These characteristics make working with them not only difficult but also risky.

2. Lack Of Knowledge

Someone with basic knowledge about the industry will not do much good. Even aside from the industry, they should have experience in being a leader and performing all the roles you have performed.

Someone with surface-level knowledge will not work.

3. Lack Of Monetary Investment

Your co-founder should willingly invest the same level of dedication, time, and even monetary investment as you. Otherwise, it is hard to find out his true motive.

Not being invested in the business financially is clearly a bad sign.


You will need your co-founder to be the yin to your yang. They have to be capable enough to fill in the gaps and even handle things on their own. Take your time when choosing the right co-founder because they can make or break your business.

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