Becoming a Founder and an Entrepreneur is lonely. End of story. Every Founder I know has spoken to the loneliness they have felt building their company. As a Founder, you’re often spending more time building your company than you’re spending with friends and family, and as the leader of your company, the pressure is on you to perform and be successful. In this environment, it’s difficult to find someone you can bounce ideas off of or someone willing to poke holes in your business plan or product. This leaves Founders feeling isolated in the turbulent world of startups, surrounded by eerie statistics around their chances of success.
Finding a Co-Founder
There are many different types of partners you could pursue. Option number one is finding a Co-Founder. This is the first, and probably the most intuitive option for one simple reason. This puts another person in the exact same boat as you. A Co-Founder is someone to share the burden with, share ideas with, and someone who is as invested in the company as you are. Finding a Co-Founder ends up being a double-edged sword though. Yes, it’s someone to share the burden with but it’s also someone you have to share decision making power with, it’s not just your company anymore.
It’s kind of like choosing a roommate or even a spouse. You must learn to share and compromise, and there will be arguments. If there aren’t arguments, you probably aren’t really working through the problem correctly. You need some healthy conflict to grow, but make sure you are choosing your Co-Founder carefully, because there is a big difference between healthy and unhealthy conflict. Although it’s the most intuitive choice to take a Co-Founder down the long road of building a company, it’s not the only option.
Finding a Consulting Partner
Now, this next option is specifically for startups that need something that they aren’t or can’t get on their own. This could be development work, a supply chain, marketing, manufacturing, you name it. For the sake of this article, we are going to use technology development as an example. For a technology start up, you really only have two choices - hire an experienced, in-house team of developers to build your digital product, or hiring a digital product consulting company to partner with you to build your digital product. There are pros and cons to any decision you make, but I am going to talk about why it makes sense to hire a consultant.
First, assuming you partner with a development firm that has experience working with startups, you are getting more from that partnership than just development. An experienced product development company will guide you through many obstacles and pitfalls you might otherwise land yourself in. They bring to the table experts that can provide keen advice and guidance, and unlike a Co-Founder, the ownership of your company remains with you. You still get to call all the shots, but now you have a sort of startup/technology mentor to guide you through the next steps in the process. A good consulting partner won’t be a “yes” man (or women). A good partner will both challenge you and encourage you when things feel insurmountable. They will lean on their experience and expertise to help you build not only a better product, but a better business.
Dive into your Startup Community
As lonely as you feel, you’re not alone. Do you know how many other founders are out there feeling the same as you? How many other startups there are going through the same trials and tribulations you are? Get out there and find your startup community. There is nothing more empowering than finding and connecting with other entrepreneurs and founders who have the same kind of drive and passion that you do. There are no down sides to getting plugged in. Plugging into the startup community opens you up to a whole network of people with a variety of skills and backgrounds. Having a strong network as a startup can mean the difference between succeeding or failing. Having a strong network can potentially connect you with quality team members, partnerships, mentors, and even investment. There is no good excuse for not getting plugged into your community. If you don’t know where to start, find out if there is a local Startup Grind in your area.
Finding the right partnership for you and your company can be a tough decision and it’s one you are going to want to put significant thought into. Whether you’re seeking a Co-Founder, technology partnership, or the support of a startup community, it’s always nice to have someone to lean on and who will provide guidance and advise. If you’re not ready to make the jump to a co-founder or tech partnership, getting plugged into your local Startup Community is a good start. Here at AWH, we have over 25 years of experience working with startups on innovative and transformative digital products. As a former startup ourselves, we have a deep understanding of the trails that startups face and we can offer advice based on our experience and expertise in the industry. We don’t take on clients unless we believe in their product because for us it really is a partnership and we put the integrity of the products we build first. If you’re looking for a technology partner, feel free to contact us. If we aren’t the right choice for you, we will do our best to steer you in the right direction.