It’s a farfetched idea to think of being the solitary, lone-wolf-type inventor and founder at the helm of a growing and thriving company. Like a ship’s captain without a crew or a commander-in-chief without a staff, you’re more likely to end up chasing your tail as this lone wolf rather than achieving any sort of prolonged success. Everybody knows it takes a team to make a venture work, but having a cofounder who is LIKE you… but NOT… can make all the difference to that team and to that venture.
They say opposites attract. In marriage and in business, your partner and you must be on the same page, heading toward common goals, but it’s the strength of your differences that will ground the journey, keep it real and help you to achieve those goals. Different backgrounds, different strengths housed under a common notion of what the big-picture is, can definitely focus a team to meet targets and get things done. You’ll find that some founders may be always looking ahead while their partners like to get down to the brass tacks. Some may have technical strengths or are fiercely product-oriented while their other halves are sales-ninjas and are all about the numbers.
Finding that delicate balance between two leaders’ skillsets may be difficult, but it’s so worth it. A company with a good match at the helm will see vision come to life much faster than without.
And now from opposites to similarities:
It might seem obvious to say that your goals and overall vision must be the same. Vision for growth is one thing, but if one founder wants to build an empire while the other wants to sell out once the company reaches a certain net-worth, this is a relationship that should be avoided. Both need to be ready to invest ALL their time for a good 5 years at least, in my opinion.
Another point to consider when searching for the right co-founder is similarity in commitment. What comes first for you both? Is it the company? Is it family? Is it lifestyle? Is it some sort of balance between all the above? Being like-minded with your desire and effort to see the venture through is a definite plus.
In the end, are two founders better than one? I think so. As with all good unions, take the time and pick wisely to avoid ending up in the “messy break-up” situation. Parting is never easy.