I Am Not Enough: How I Learned I Needed a Co-Founder

Posted February 16, 2017

james

Who needs a co-founder? Not me. Going it alone left me with all the control and all the equity, and that’s what I thought was more important during my first few years as an entrepreneur.

I was wrong.

Despite having some success as a solo-founder, I gradually changed my viewpoint on co-founders. It took me a long time to realize why co-founders are the preferred option for venture capitalists and most repeat entrepreneurs.

Most of my initial negativity was due to one simple reason: I hadn’t yet met anyone with whom I wanted to build a startup.

Most people I encounter who feel “anti-co-founder” are young and feel the same way I did. If you too can relate, give yourself more time. Finding a co-founder and partner is a little bit like finding a soulmate. It just takes time to find someone who you enjoy spending time with, whose decision-making you trust, and whose vision aligns with yours.

But now, there are four primary reasons I’m a co-founder advocate:

1. Being a single founder is lonely.

After a couple of years, this was the largest problem I faced. I was lonely. No one truly shared my problems, or my dreams. My closest friends could sympathize with me, but they weren’t fighting the battle alongside me, unable to truly empathize. The closest I came to having someone understand was coffee with a group of other founders every Friday afternoon, which leads to reason number two.

2. No work gets done if you take a coffee break.

It’s depressing when no work gets done every time you break for lunch, meet a friend, or watch a sports game. Employees help with this over time, but the first few months (or in my case, over a year) are difficult. The times when you should be relaxing, you can’t.

3. Your strengths and weaknesses balance each other.

I have lots of weaknesses. I’m prone to distraction by shiny things. I’d rather work on building a product than selling a product.  I finally saw in potential co-founders the strengths that would balance my weaknesses, and vice versa. 1 + 1 sometimes equals 3. (My co-founder also balances out my math skills.)

4. More connections.

A co-founder brings their connections to the business. Valuable connections that make attracting investment and hiring talent an easier process.

Is A Co-Founder What You Need?

Friends and family can counteract some of these issues. Immediately hiring employees can help alleviate your workload. Not everyone needs a co-founder, but the more experience I’ve gained, the less I’ve wanted to go it alone.

I’m now one of seven partners at Expected Behavior, the creators of Instrumental and DocRaptor. I’m never lonely, work is always getting done, my weaknesses are balanced, and we have connections into every imaginable area. Having six business partners has its own problems (that might be another post), but the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives for us.

Expected Behavior and Instrumental are sponsors of Verge, a network of local communities with global reach for tech entrepreneurs, investors, and top talent. Powderkeg is powered by Verge and the global Verge community. 

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james