“Getting things done is better than having things perfect. Done is better than perfect. Whatever you have in your hands, get going with it. Just do it.” —Charles Igwe, Nollywood Global Media Group, Nigeria
For some of us, business ideas are constantly flowing into our minds. Most people never actually act on them. Some act and get stuck. Some act and manage to get their idea off the ground. Regardless of the idea, most businesses will need you to work with someone at some point. In this article, I will outline five reasons why it’s better to have a co-founder near inception rather than later in the process.
1. You get double the network
Even if the quality of the network is not balanced, there is no way that your co-founder’s network would not come in handy at some point in the business process. Not everyone has a wealthy family that you can approach for angel investment. However, some people have a good network of supportive friends that will easily be your first customers. Some people also know people who know people. So, even if your co-founder can’t connect you directly to someone of importance, once their well-connected friends see your business progress, you will see them come out of the woodwork asking if you would like to be introduced to someone that can help move the business forward. Your co-founder may also have a solid network of potential future employees that could add to your working style.
2. Half the financial responsibility
Some businesses can be capital-intensive to build. If this is the case – find a co-founder. You share the financial responsibility, allowing you to have more capital for your life. Ensure that you are honest with each other throughout the process on your financial capability. It would be a disaster if one of you were to run out of money before the business launched. At least one of you should be loaded and have enough capital to survive for a minimum of two years without any income (maybe less in the West). Unforeseen circumstances are a given, especially when building a business in Africa.
3. The probability of them thinking like you most of the time is moderate, so they are guaranteed to provide insights you would not have thought of on your own.
Everyone that knows me knows how obsessed I am with personality. Understanding personality is a great life hack for emotional intelligence, marketing, power, and so much more. I primarily use the Myer Briggs and Enneagram frameworks. The chances that your co-founder has the same combination of these two tests as you are moderately low. Therefore, they will view the world differently and act differently to you in various situations. This is a great benefit, especially in a business’s early days, because they will likely bring solutions you would not have thought of. They are also likely to foresee how some prospective clients/customers might react to your offerings since customers have different personalities too.
The diversity of thought in your founding team will benefit you in the early days when you are deliberating on your business model and strategy. However, be prepared for clashes. There may also be an imbalance in work ethic, quality and drive. It’s best to know this and find solutions for it BEFORE you enter business with anyone. Essentially, your blind spots automatically reduce with a responsible co-founder that adds value.
4. The headache that comes with having a co-founder is the lesser of the evil of having no co-founder
When you have no co-founder, getting the business off the ground will sometimes take you longer. When you are not working, things stop moving. That can be very tough if you still have a day job or become ill. You are also more likely to have gone down the wrong road in your business model, as you did not have someone to bounce off when discussing the intricacies of your business. You are also more likely to be burnt out. Shared responsibility is always easier than sole responsibility for staff, finances, operations, sales, marketing, etc. What if your business is for seven days a week? Or 24 hours? Who will cover for you when you need a break or a holiday? At some point, you will have a manager, but a co-founder is better.
Without a co-founder, the business only has your skillset. A co-founder brings a fresh load of skills and capabilities. When applying for VC investment, they often ask you if you have a technical co-founder. If you’re in tech and someone in your founding team can code, this is undoubtedly a big plus for your business and potential for future success.
5. A lot of VCs don’t want to invest in a company without a co-founder
I’ve seen VCs that require the business to have a co-founder. They like to see teams that have come together to create a business. They also don’t like that solo founder would control the board and finances on their own for some time initially. Investing in one person is risky. They could fall ill, lose interest or make irrational and detrimental decisions to the business. Naturally, this will all depend on the nature of the business.
Salute to those who build a business by themselves. There are still many solo founders out there that are doing a good job. Some of the most valuable businesses on the globe were founded by one person. If you’re a solo founder, I would love to hear how you did it and how soon you did employ someone? What industry were you in and what tips can you give to those that don’t have a co-founder?