Finally, you have cleared the exams and have decided not to work for someone else, but for yourself. A great idea and indeed a brave one too. But then most people find it very difficult to start a new firm or a venture alone and think that if they could find someone like them who can be a good partner.
Finding a right partner, someone who shares the same passion and rigor is not only extremely important but a difficult one too. It is as important as finding a wife because he/she would be the second person you would spend most of yout time with, may be more. Who knows!!
I remember when my partners decided to start their own consulting firm they were very clear that they would be together. This also has another major advantage. When you start a business, you wouldn’t get business from day one and who knows how much time it might take to actually set you rock and roll. During this interim period you would need someone to be with you, someone who understand how difficult it is to be an entrepreneur and that person can perhaps helps you keep going till the time you are set.
I sometimes get questions from professionals and students exploring entrepreneurship about how should they identify a good partner or a co-founder for their firm/venture. This is actually a very difficult question to answer because there is no single way to do that. One person who is good with others might not perform well with someone else and therefore, it ultimately turns out to be your own personal choice and gut feel. However, with my experience of being an entrepreneur, I could manage to identify some points that might be of help to people looking for the right partners.
(A) Is he/she as passionate and hungry as you are
This, to me is the most important factor in deciding the choice of the right partner. You certainly don’t want to start a venture with someone who is not passionate and hungry in achieving the dreams you have fancied for yourself. There is a lot you would keep art stake including finances and therefore, your co-founder has to be highly motivated.
I am not trying to suggest the guy should be desperate, but he should definitely share your passion, your dream and consequently, think alike on making the venture successful.
How do you identify if the person is as passionate as you about the new venture. Indeed very difficult but this can be gauged from his/her level of seriousness whist you guys are discussing about the venture. Is he/she ready to work late hours to discuss, is he/she ready to work on weekends and not bother about taking any breaks, is he/she ready to take responsibility of some preliminary work you guys decide to do, is he/she only good in dreaming or is taking some concrete actions and steps. If the answer to these questions is in affitmative, then you perhaps are talking to the right person.
(B) His/her skills should be one which you don’t have
Another critical factor is to identify the skills that are not available to you and are relevant for starting the venture. And then start the process of identifying the person who’s got those skill-sets so that both of you are able to compliment each other.
Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses so that you are sure of skills you need from your partner that could perhaps cover your weaknesses and convert them into strengths of the firm/venture.
For example, from the perspective of starting a consulting firm you might have a very strong experience in taxation but not in audit. In order to start a full service firm, it might be relevant to have capabilities in both audit and tax and therefore, you might need a person who has the relevant experience.
Alternatively, you might be highly networked and have the might to generate business out of those relationships, but lack relevant technical skills. You would then need a person to take care of technical matters. In addition, if you propose to start any other venture, be it e-commerce or online education, you may need a person to take care of technology since IT would play a very important role in that venture. Your business acumen would be of no use if it cannot be complimented by relevant technical/IT skills. In such a case, finding the right IT person would be critical.
Whatever be your weakness should ideally be your co-partner’s strengths. So be very careful in identifying the skills that your co-partner should have and then scout for the right person.
(C) No personality mis-match
You obviously don’t want to get branded with a person as his/her partner if your personality doesn’t compliment each other. The process of finding the co-founder is like dating a person where you need to spend both quality and quantity time with each before taking a final call on your marriage, professionally.
Spend some time together and have elaborate discussions with each other on the aspects of business you guys want to build. During the discussions, if possible try and execute some small projects together and assess how you perform together. What happens generally is that when you meet someone for the first time, you are always at your best. But when you start to spend more and more time together you start to show your real nature. It is therefore, critical that you understand each other very well before signing any contract. Because, once you get together, any kind of divorce would is painful and socially not accepted well.
The more you spend time in identifying your partner, the better your chances would be to succeed.
Now that you know a little bit on how to identify your co-partner, it is important to know where do you find him/her. Obviously you cant find the right co-founder on bharatmatromony.com or shaadi.com. You definitely need to tap into your existing resources and contacts and take a decision.
Here are some ways to identify who is the right and suitable match for your business:
(ii) Friends are the best bet
School friends or college buddies or perhaps friends made during your professional journey including articleship or coaching classes could be the best bet. That’s because you guys know each other very well, would have spent a lot of time together and understand each others strengths and weaknesses. The comfort factor is high and that’s exactly what’s required to start a new business.
(iii) Look at your colleagues also
Your office colleagues could also be the right people to scout as a business partner. Sometimes they might be better than your friends because you would at least know how they behave professionally and you therefore, need not test them on this factor.
(iv) Networking helps
Deep dive into your existing network and start looking for the right partner. You meet so many people in office, at clients place, during conferences, at restaurants or pubs. Take out your contact list and start to analyse who among them would suit your needs. You would have met a person anywhere and may have liked his/her demeanor. Now it’s the time to perhaps capitalize on that meeting and convert it into a partnership.
(v) Manage for the time being
Finding the right co-partner is indeed difficult and you cant find someone overnight to start your dream business. This process should be taken very seriously and with patience. There is absolutely no need to hurry.
If, you are unable to find the right person, don’t hurry up and finalise someone who is not the right fit in long term, though you may be tempted to hire in the short run. It is important that for the interim time period you start the firm/venture with your skill-sets and manage without the rest. Take help of your friends and colleagues who can pitch in for the skills that you may be missing but don’t stop starting the consulting firm or any other venture you are passionate about.
Let this process of finding the right partner be filled up with solid patience and determination to find only the right person. Think of it as if you are getting married and obviously you don’t want to hurry up and select a wrong match for yourself. Your partner is going to be the person with whom you would spend a lot of time and for you to be stuck together, it is important that this professional marriage is selected and handled with care.
Wishing you the best and green lights in your career…
Authored by Nimish Goel (www.nimishgoel.com), a qualified chartered accountant who’s passion is to coach young chartered accountants and aspiring students achieve the best in their life. Nimish used to work with EY and PwC in India and has also worked with KPMG in Europe. He now runs his own consulting company and runs a blog www.nimishgoel.com. He can be reached for any queries and issues on his blog.