“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” This is one of my favorite quotes by Patrick Lencioni.
This applies to any size company, but it is particularly important to startups. When a company is starting out and founders have yet to build a track record, investors will rate the company's chance of success on the quality of the team. You may have a great idea or product but if you don’t have a strong team you won’t be able to sustain it.
That is why we strongly recommend aspiring entrepreneurs partner with a co-founder that compliments their skill set. Choosing a co-founder is one of the most critical decisions you’ll make. Don’t choose randomly.
What to look for in a co-founder.
After working with many founders, we’ve noticed the most successful ones tend to share the following qualities: determination, resourcefulness and resilience. They are not afraid to fail and will do whatever it takes to get things done. IQ is also important but in our experience, if you lack the other three, IQ becomes irrelevant. Focus is the new IQ.
Another important skill, and often the least discussed, among technology founders is communication. Tech startups should have at least one founder who can build the product or service and one founder who is good at communicating the value to non-technical users. Quality teams often have founders with contradictory traits. Founders complement each other in areas where others fall short.
One of the leading causes of death for early startups is cofounder breakups. In most cases founders met for the first time for the sole purpose of starting a company. When choosing a cofounder, you want someone you know really well, someone you trust. You really don’t want to get this wrong
People ask me all the time if it’s hard to work with my co-founder, and husband, Chris. They should be asking him that question as I’m 100% sure I’m more difficult to work with than he is. The truth is, besides complimenting my weaknesses, I trust Chris. Building a startup is hard. You want someone you trust not only to get the job done but also to be there for you when things don’t go as expected. At some point in your startup’s lifecycle, the projected value of your company will dip below the X-axis. Would you want to experience that with someone you met through a co-founder dating site? Or with someone who wont quit or let you quit because at the end of the day you don't want to let each other down?