(Left) Masha Belyi — my awesome business partner

10 Steps to Finding The Right Co-Founder

1. Know Yourself

You are the biggest boulder in your way. Finding a partner is arguably more about discovering your own weaknesses than seeking out someone with a specific set of strengths. Many people all over the world are the correct business compliment for you. Discovering them is impossible if you don’t know what to look for. Maybe you’re a designer. Maybe you’re a straight hustler. Both of these examples need a crazy good hacker on their side. Figure out what you can’t do.

2. Fill The Holes

Once you know what you suck at, search to fill that hole! I’m a designer. My partner is a tremendous technical talent. This is the compliment you’re looking for. While I can write some code — I suck at it! Don’t spend your time trying to become better at what you suck at. Find the partner that fills the hole for you.

3. Take Your Time

You’ll hear it over and over — don’t get married on the first date! The same is true and equally clichéd for business. Take the time you need to get to know the person you’ll be partnering with. As in dating — if you’re both passionate about something, the beginning will be all roses and chocolate. Quickly, it will become obvious that this partnership is HARD.

4. See How They Act In Stress

A big part of taking your time is getting to know your potential partner during times where roses and chocolate are nowhere to be found. Stress shows a person for who they really are. I’m not saying throw your potential partner’s computer on the ground and see how they respond — but taking the time to see how your relationship functions under stressful scenarios is crucial for a longterm founding partnership.

5. Health

I truly believe that how someone cares for themselves and their body says a lot about who they are. In my experience it’s a rare person that eats Burger King every single day, doesn’t exercise ever, and yet dedicates their whole being to the success of an enterprise. An individual’s mind and body are their most valuable assets. If a person doesn’t care for those — you should not expect them to care for the company.

6. Diverse Interests

The best co-founders tend to have lots of interests. They likely only excel at a couple — but having interest in a large amount of topics is a sign of someone who loves to learn and is insatiably curious. Insatiable curiosity is unmatched when it comes to personality traits most befitting a founder.

7. Beaten, Not Defeated

Startup life is a roller coaster. Finding a co-founder who has weathered a storm or two and come out the other side with a smile is a fantastic sign that they’re going to be flexible enough to succeed on this rocky journey. Look for people who have been beaten, not defeated.

8. Never Lie

You need to be able to trust this partner implicitly. Never lie to them. They literally have access to your bank account. You have been warned.

9. Be Vulnerable

The importance of honesty is deeper than simply business transactions. Being open about who you are and what you’re going through is crucially important for the development of a partnership. Building a company is difficult. No one will understand that more than the person you’re currently building it with. Make sure that you choose someone who will not only listen to your pains and struggles, but shares theirs as well. This isn’t me saying you should discuss every single personal detail, but rather that all parties involved have to trust that open emotional honesty will be met favorably and not dismissed. SUPPORT is the name of the game.

10. Trust Your Gut

If your gut tells you that this is the right person. Do the deal. And in my opinion, make that deal 50/50. You’re in this together.

As always you can reach me at ryan@zeroslant.com