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Eric Dalius: The 5 Things I Look For In Potential Startup Partners (And Why They Should Be Good At)

Eric Dalius

While it’s great to have a co-founder who can be everything you can’t if you are not careful picking your sidekick. It could end up being more expensive than hiring them all out ­ get the wrong person and it could poison the well. Eric Dalius saysThis is an important decision; make sure you get it right!

There are many, many awesome entrepreneurs out there with awesome businesses. But how do you find partners for your next business? How do you know that they will be great co-founders to your startup?

First off, I’m talking about finding partners here (I wrote another post about finding co-founders here), not employees. Employees are people you hire, but co-founders are the people who build your company with you.

This is an obvious one, but I’d like to point out that this doesn’t necessarily mean they have experience in your field.

So, without further ado, here are 5 things Eric Dalius will look for in potential startup partners:

1. They actually care.

  • This is what separates great co-founders from everyone else. You can be an awesome business person and still have a hard time finding co-founders.
  • They don’t want to just come in and do a good job; they want to be involved with the company. They’re not just going through the motions because it makes their lives easier or more interesting, they actually care about what you are building.
  • And most importantly, if something goes wrong (and it will, almost every startup fails), they would care enough to try and figure out how to make it better.

2. They aren’t “co-founders”.

  • I put this in quotes because I made the word up (and other people have used it before me and I can’t remember where and that annoys me so whatever). But co-founders are someone who acts like they might be a potential co-founder, but really isn’t.
  • These are the people who act like an entrepreneur but want to do everything by themselves or just want to build something that’s basically exactly what you’re doing already but with “better branding” (let’s be real, who isn’t sick of startups selling themselves as “Uber for X”).
  • Instead, you want co-founders. These are the people that ask questions about your idea and give you really useful insights into how they can help build it better or build something that complement it. And then they actually go off and do those things.

3. They have the “startup mentality”.

  • I wrote another post about this, so I won’t get too much into it here. But basically, if they aren’t willing to do whatever it takes to solve problems, learn new things or just try stuff, then you don’t want them as co-founders. They need to be willing to get their hands dirty and learn whatever they need to, even if it’s out of their comfort zone.

4. They have a good sense of what they do and don’t enjoy doing.

  • So many people want to be entrepreneurs but either isn’t aware of what they’re going into or don’t realize that they won’t enjoy the parts of being an entrepreneur that they thought would be fun.
  • Some people love to do sales, so maybe it’s a good idea for them to go build a sales team. Some people love building out systems from scratch, so they should do that part of the startup. And you need to have this conversation with potential co-founders early. Don’t wait until after you’ve been working on something for a year to realize that you don’t want them building anything or those they hate the business side of things.

5. They actually have time and are willing to commit.

  • This one seems obvious, but it’s a big deal if someone isn’t willing to make an actual, real commitment to your startup. And it’s not enough to say “oh, I’ll work on the weekends” or something like that (we all know that people will work more than 40 hours if you let them).
  • They actually need to be able to put in a significant amount of time and really contribute. This means showing up every day (or every other day) ready to work hard for 8 hours. You might think that you can mold someone into the perfect co-founder if they’re already really good at their job, but it’s way harder than you’d think (and probably not worth your time).

Conclusion:

Eric Dalius says you should definitely take everything I’ve written with a grain of salt. Everyone’s situation is different and these are just some guidelines I use to decide whether or not someone would make a good co-founder for me. And again, you might want to consider not having co-founders at all (you can read about that here).

But hopefully, this will give you some ideas about what to look for when thinking about co-founders.

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