I’ve had a couple discussions recently about when is the right time to look for a co-founder. As soon as you have an idea? Once you’ve tested some of your core assumptions? Before you have an idea? There’s no rule and I haven’t seen anything written on the subject.
The Perfect Idea
The goal of your startup is to find a business model that works. If you think you’ve come up with the greatest idea ever, everything is worked out in your head, and you just need to execute, well…you’re probably wrong about everything (or at least most things) and you won’t get the one thing out of a co-founder than you really need: a second opinion.
If there is anything I’ve learned during my own startup journey, it’s that I know nothing and I need to learn as much as possible. I need to learn about my target market, my business model, coding, design, where the best sandwiches downtown are sold, etc.
If your idea is permanently fixed in your head, you’re not really trying to learn, you’re trying to prove to everyone else that you’re right. So why do you need a co-founder at that point? Just to do your bidding? Then you should be hiring someone.
If you want someone to join you in a partnership, it will probably work a lot better if it is actually a partnership. You should both be learning from each other and questioning each others assumptions so you can learn faster. If your co-founder asks you uncomfortable questions, that’s a good thing. Your co-founder should be helping you answer those hard questions. Embrace it.
I think the best time to find a co-founder is when you’re tossing around crazy ideas about changing the world with duct tape and a Swiss army knife. I want to hear more bizarre ideas that might not have occurred to me. I want to be able to throw my idea and my ego under the bridge if my co-founder has a better one.
I also want to make sure that my co-founder has an idea of their own. Preferably more than one. Creative solutions are often a numbers game.
It’s not that some people come up with the top 10% of all ideas. It’s just that there are some people that come up with a lot of ideas. Some are good, many are bad. If you don’t have a lot of them, you won’t be able to sift through and cherry pick the brilliant concept that will drive your business to the next level.
I’m sure many entrepreneurs will ignore this gladly. Some will say, “Determination is the single most important factor in success.” That’s true…sort of.
An entrepreneur driven by pure determination with a preconceived notion and no desire to learn is a bit like a fool wandering around in the dark with map he drew himself twenty minutes ago who refuses to turn on his flashlight. Would you rather invest your life savings in someone who was stubbornly determined to succeed along a single preconceived notion? Or perhaps invest in someone who was determined to learn how to succeed?
To learn as fast as possible, find a study buddy.