If you have an idea for a new tech business, but lack the skills to create it yourself, the first logical choice would be to look for a technical co-founder that you can partner up with. However, this might not be the best choice. While I am all about partnership and cooperation, there are certain difficulties in finding a co-founder.
Partnership means trust
Knowing the other person is key to any successful partnership. You have to be transparent with your co-founder and vice versa. If you can’t see your partner’s true colors and have to wonder whether he has a hidden agenda, there’s no point in uniting with him in the first place. With that in mind, getting to really know someone who, up until recently, has been a complete stranger is practically impossible. You’ve only met this person a couple of times, so the chances of knowing what they’re about are pretty slim. Sure, you can meet someone with whom you immediately click, but it doesn’t happen often.
There’s an option of partnering with a longtime friend, but this can create another problem – friendship and money don’t mix well. The last thing anyone wants is to ruin a relationship because of professional disagreements. Running a startup creates a constant level of stress, so there are bound to be some tiffs.
It’s difficult to find someone with the same set of values
Shared values may not seem important, but they are. When you’re searching for a co-founder, you have to keep in mind that you will be seeing a lot of this person throughout the day and you will constantly have to communicate. You won’t necessary become best friends, but a certain level of familiarity and camaraderie will be established.
People are usually drawn to individuals that are similar to them, so if your personalities are too different, you won’t be able to understand or find common ground with this person.
This issue will also transfer to your business decisions: if a person A thinks that customer trust and loyalty is more important than profit, but a person B doesn’t, finding a balance between the two will be more difficult. Not being united in decision-making can harm your interaction with other associates and clients. Standing out amongst thousands of other startups is hard enough without the extra internal quarrels.
Technical co-founders can become redundant
In the early days of your company, there will be more than enough work for everybody. Your will be dealing with a million things until you get the hang of it. There might be one problem in the long run, though: once everything is in place, your co-founder might become unnecessary.
Once the product is finalized, you will still have to deal with investors, PR, monetary issues and so on, but on the technical side of things, the major task has already been accomplished. There is a good chance that your partner won’t have enough things to keep him busy. Surely, there will be smaller responsibilities to take care of, but they can be outsourced to someone less competent. This actually happens more than we realize, so you might want to consider this prior to finding a co-founder.
You have to share equity
For some entrepreneurs, sharing equity is one of the biggest issues they can face. Determining how much of the company each one of you will own is a tricky subject, especially since you won’t be doing an equal amount of work.
When you are a sole shareholder, the final word will always be yours, not to mention that you will earn more. If there’s a partner involved, you are a symbiosis of two personas that need to find a middle ground on every decision. If there are multiple co-owners, the mess can become even bigger.
Going solo is not always possible, though, so many entrepreneurs have to share equity, but if there’s a chance to avoid it, think about what kind of a person you are and if you really are willing to do it. Some don’t have a problem with it, but if you do, elude it at all costs.
Searching for a partner requires time
In business, time is money. The search for a technical co-founder can take up a lot of your time. Often you will meet dozens of people and it can take months until you meet the right person.
If you’re trying to get a business started, people will usually advise you to find a partner if you can’t build the product yourself, but just think about all that time that you could spend doing other business-related things.
So how do you go about working alone? Leaning on a partner to take care of the technical aspect of business means one less thing to worry about, but if you’re up for the challenge, here is what you can do.
Learn to code
Coding may sound intimidating and like it will take ages to learn, but it’s really not that bad. After all, you can’t work well with developers if you don’t know what you are talking about, right? Learning to code will require effort and commitment, but it will definitely pay off in the long run. You can also pretty much master it yourself, with some books and online research, and there’s an option of taking a Web course.
Related Resource: Top 9 Ways to Teach Yourself to Code
Hire a team online
You can build a great working relationship with people you don’t even have to ever meet in person. Hiring a freelancer is also a viable option. All the work can be done online and you can work together through e-mails or some of the communication platforms available (personally, we use Slack and Trello). Plus, you will pay a freelancer substantially less than a co-founder and you’ll get to keep your shares.
Side note: The job still needs to be done properly, so don’t hire whoever is asking for less money. Even though you’ll pay more, it will still be a lot less than you would have to spend if you had a partner.
Related Resource: Create an iPhone or Android Application from Scratch
Utilize platforms available to you
Especially in the beginning, every penny will matter. You can use various platforms that will save you money for different tasks. For instance, MailChimp can take care of your mailing lists, you can build a website on Squarespace, use social media for marketing or Usertesting.com to get feedback on your product. You can upgrade over time, but when starting, doing business on a budget is vital and won’t need another person to take care of many things, because most of these platforms don’t require special skills to use.
Both working solo and having a partner have pros and cons, so make sure to do your research and think about what you want to achieve before you make up your mind.