If you have a business idea or are in the process of starting a company, you might be on the hunt for a co-founder. While it's possible to start a business on your own, it's certainly not easy.
However, most startups have multiple co-founders. Microsoft, Google, and Facebook started with two or three co-founders. Twitter had four. There doesn't seem to be a magic number. So, how do you figure out how many co-founders you need and where to find them?
Co-founders are people that will compliment your skill set, bring a different perspective, and help you through the tumultuous emotional rollercoaster that every entrepreneur faces. They will also be the ones that help shape your company's core values and culture. Therefore, you need to carefully choose the right individuals to be your co-founder(s).
Know what you're looking for.
The first step is to figure out exactly who you're looking for. Skills, personality traits, and experience are important factors to consider. You need to find someone that will compliment you but most importantly someone that you can work very effectively with.
There are many skills required to build a successful business: from management to product design, recruiting to financing, all the way down to logistics. Even if you're experienced in most aspects of starting a company, there are not enough hours in the day to do everything.
You need to figure out what you're best at, and find the right people who will be better than you at doing the rest.
Once you've figured out the profiles of your potential co-founder(s), you should start thinking about how you would convince them to join you on this crazy adventure. Treat this as a full sales exercise. You want smart people to join you. Smart people will need to be convinced that this is a great opportunity and you are the right person to do this with.
You should be able to clearly explain your business model, the opportunity you're seeing in the market, and why now is the right time for this to succeed.
Have a business plan ready.
Once you find a potential candidate to join you as a co-founder, you will want to walk them through your business plan. You will need to think about how much money you need, where it will come from, what you will do with it, how you will build your product and how you will go to market and acquire customers.
Once you know who you're looking for and are ready to pitch your business, you'll be able to start your search for a co-founder. The best place to start is to ask your network: friends, family, ex-coworkers. Reach out to the smartest people you know and ask them to introduce you to the smartest people they know.
While your network is the best place to start looking, don't disregard other avenues. Attend networking events, join an entrepreneur's club, or hunt for people with the skillset you're looking for and cold e-mail them.
Yes, it actually works. I found my CTO and co-founder at my first startup by looking for engineers with relevant technologies on LinkedIn and sending him a cold email.
Don't skip the dating part.
When you find someone that has the perfect profile and fit, treat the first few weeks the same way you would with a potential life partner. Try to impress them -- but make sure they impress you too.
If this is going to work out, you will be spending most of your waking hours for the next few months (or years) in a room sitting next to them. You will go through many ups and downs and hopefully have a life-changing experience together.
Don't rush into things. Figuring out if you need one or multiple co-founders and choosing the right one(s) is likely the single most important decision you'll ever make for your business. It will make or break your company.