By Benjamin Wong
We often see friends set out to found businesses together. But what if the idea comes first, and you need someone to support you as you bring your startup to life?
Finding a reliable co-founder took me a long time. I needed someone who could help me propel my business forward; more importantly, the individual and I needed good rapport and chemistry.
In my decade of experience as an entrepreneur, I’ve seen businesses succeed and fail, and the reason usually goes back to leadership. So, suffice it to say, finding the right co-founder will play a massive role in the future of any startup.
After months of searching, I’m glad to say that I found the right co-founder. I’ve distilled my experiences into three simple steps, and I hope these steps will help you find the right co-founder, too.
Identify complementary skill sets
Before diving in, you need to create parameters and a general direction that will help simplify your search. Draw up a list of requirements that will serve as the co-founder’s job scope. Next, take a look at yourself and evaluate your skill set and experience. Examine your strengths and weaknesses, as you want your business partner’s strengths to balance your inadequacies.
For example, my strength lies in enterprise-building; hence, I needed a business partner with a legal background and compliance expertise to fill the gap. Fintech–the industry I operate in–is nascent, but it is already heavily regulated.
Although you shouldn’t write off a profile that you find interesting, having a job description in hand will allow you to cut through the noise and identify suitable candidates quickly.
Be aligned on values, vision, and mission
Your values, vision, and mission need to be aligned from day one. My co-founder, Kien, and I both faced similar problems when we used traditional means to send money overseas, albeit in very different scenarios. These experiences meant that we both identified a problem that we hoped to solve.
This alignment is crucial because, in the course of building the business, there will be times when you inevitably disagree and look at an issue from different perspectives. Having a shared vision will help you come to a consensus.
Also, you will often have to trust each other to make decisions on behalf of the company, and having the same values will ensure that you would draw the same or at least a similar conclusion to that of your co-founder.
Work together first
I had the opportunity to work with Kien when his legal firm in Singapore was assigned to my previous company for a case. Through this relationship, I witnessed first-hand that he brings a unique, individualized approach to help businesses navigate regulatory and compliance issues. We also had strong working chemistry, which I knew would make it easy for us to partner together on a longer-term basis.
Three years later, I’m glad to say that I’ve made the right choice. We’ve laid a strong foundation for future growth and business expansion. This dynamic, I believe, is the greatest benefit of finding the right co-founder.
Benjamin is the Co-founder of TranSwap, a global payments company.
About the Author
Benjamin Wong is the Co-founder and CEO of TranSwap, a company that provides businesses with a platform to seamlessly manage and execute payments globally. Through his extensive industry knowledge and a well-rounded business perspective, Benjamin has successfully launched several startups.