“The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader”, said Derek Sivers in a Ted Talk. He was talking about a video of a lonely dancer and the first person who joined his dance. In the end, thanks to that first follower, more people joined them. But, according to Sivers, the most important person was the first follower. Without him, the movement would’ve failed.
In Guy Kawasaki’s book “The art of the start 2.0” he compares this first follower with a startup’s co-founder. This analogy between the creation of a movement and a startup have something in common. They both need followers and they both have a leader. Since founders have the vision and the idea, they need to transmit it to others. And they need others in order to make their project succeed. The first persons to follow them “usually” are co-founders.
It’s important to highlight the importance of creating a team to achieve a big goal. And Kawasaki talks about the contribution of at least two great friends entrepreneurs.
So, how would you choose a co-founder? Well, Kawasaki gave some tips to form the best teams possible. He made a list of similarities and differences that the lone nut and the first follower should have. Let’s take a deep look at these characteristics.
The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader. Derek Sivers
Similarities between the founder and the co-founder
Let’s begin with the characteristics that these members of the team should have in common. This will help avoid future frustrations and create a warmer work environment.
The vision of the members
It is important that the team think similar about the evolution of the startup and the market. For instance, what’s the opinion of them about the future trends of the market. If one believes that all the commerce will go online and the other one stands up for traditional businesses fervently, that’s not a good match.
Size of the business
According to Kawasaki, not everyone wants to build an empire. Some people rather not live for the company. They may not want to become the next Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk. Make sure you and your companions feel the same way about the expectations you have.
Which are the priorities of the members of the team? Is it the startup, their family or their personal life? Are you looking for work-life balance?
Avoid future conflicts by talking about these topics beforehand.
Differences between co-workers
In order to become more competitive, these differences will bring creativity to the startup. Not only creativity but new ideas and an innovative spirit to it.
The members have to complement each other. Guy gives the example of Steve Wozniak who was really behind product design, and Steve Jobs who was great at sales.
The more skills you have, the more activities you can perform before hiring and delegating.
Points of view
The POVs are the lens through which the entrepreneurs see the world. Which is great for the birth of new ideas and problems solutions.
To finish this post, I’d like to add some personal advice on choosing who to work with.
First of all, it should be someone you trust. You can’t work with people if you know nothing about them. Maybe some of your partners told you to recruit someone they know. That person can become your partner, just because you had a reference. So even if you don’t know that person, your partner did and that’s the difference.
Founders and co-founders will disagree in a lot of decisions. That’s natural, you can think really similar, but you are different people. This is actually good, to have more options and POVs. But this could also obstruct your work and generate conﬂicts. You need to handle these situations smartly. You all need to understand that this is not a competition and the decisions that you take have to be the best for all of you, for the startup.
If different ideas come up, you need to pick the best one. If you can’t decide it, you can come to an agreement and ﬁnd a solution that is halfway from the ones you thought about. The important thing here is that nobody remains unsatisﬁed with the choices that you make.
Ways of working and work ethic
Last but not least, you should have a similar way of working. You need to understand that people won’t change their methods of doing things just because you don’t like it. If you don’t, maybe you chose the wrong people to associate with. If people are more rigid or prefer to have more flexible schedules, is something you should keep in mind. Not only schedules but, for instance, caring about the details or not caring at all could be another aspect.
You should try to form a group with a strong work ethic. People that want the project to succeed.
In the opinion of great entrepreneurs, such as Elon Musk, skills matter more than degrees. And even if when you are hiring you could avoid this, you shouldn’t do the same when finding co-founders. You can avoid this step when hiring since skills can be acquired. The reason why you shouldn’t do this in the second case is that you are at the beginning stage of your project. You still have a lot of things to figure out. So, in order to carry out this project, you should surround yourself with skilled people.
How to recruit a co-founder?
It is not easy to find the right colleagues, that’s true, but at least now you know what to find in one. You may not get all the checklist correct, but find the most optimal people to work with that you can.
Don’t worry if you can’t find “the perfect” co-founders, and remember that “perfect” is relative. It doesn’t have to follow 100% with this tips since this is some advice to avoid really bad co-workers. So you know how to find someone instead of hiring your best friends who don’t apply for any of the features listed above.