This post is part of the Bootstrapped Startup 50 series. The goal for the BS50 series is to cover everything that matters when bootstrapping a new startup. The posts are sequential, so it wouldn’t hurt to read from the beginning if you’re just joining in.
The decision whether or not to have a cofounder for your new venture is one of the most critical that you’ll make. It will affect everything from how the company is operated to how much money you personally make once you’ve built a successful business. There are many things to consider, and it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly.
I’m going to split this discussion into two parts because it may get a little lengthy. In this post I’ll hit on the advantages of bringing a cofounder in.
Cofounders Vs Employees
First, a quick note about when you should choose a cofounder instead of an employee. Early on you’re most likely not going to have any revenue, so hiring an employee immediately creates an expense that has to be paid. If you’re considering hiring someone who is extremely talented and that you trust implicitly then you should consider making them a cofounder (co-owner of the company) instead. If they’re passionate enough about your idea then they may forego some salary now for ownership considerations and deferred income a little further down the line. Cofounders are inherently more invested in the company’s success.
Complementing Your Skillset
Bringing in a cofounder whose skills complement yours, not mimics them, is a great way to round out your newly formed organization… they can be the yin to your yang. If your startup is a web company and you’re a designer then you’ll probably need to bring in a developer. Bizdev types will probably need someone technical, depending on the industry. Having founders with a combined skillset that covers the majority of the work needed to get a company off the ground is a luxury and probably gives you a better chance at success than going it alone or having to rely on contractors and new-hire employees.
Cofounders Are A Force Multiplier
The initial work required to get your product to an MVP state or an early alpha stage is daunting. Being able to split that workload will help you get your product out the door sooner and let you start the even longer process of building a profitable product earlier. This force multiplier allows you to more aggressively tackle opportunities and challenges, go after bigger clients, think bigger, etc.
What are your thoughts on bringing in cofounders? Have you had any experiences with a cofounder before? Please share in the comments.
Next up we’ll talk about the potential pitfalls of adding cofounders.