The Right Business Partner is 50% of the Battle Won
A startup for a founder is like his/her first baby, his/her first marriage and the founder’s current love affair.
When I first decided to start up, I didn’t know I was starting up, or if it was called that too, all I knew that I needed to do something to ensure I was doing better and creating a better platform for like and not-so-like minded individuals to show what they could achieve as individuals in the most fascinating industry of my life, advertising, if we took out the barriers of age/experience/cultural background/societal privilege from their lives.
Few months into the thought, I realised it wasn’t difficult at all, I realised that there were people everywhere who felt that they weren’t given the right platform to perform and how they could have done a lot better if all they got was freedom. One of them being from my family, my first cousin, someone who had grown up with me, someone who wasn’t just a cousin but a person I’d rely on every single day, Someone who had become my best friend and my brother in the journey called growing up. He had become someone who I could trust with absolutely anything in my life. I’d be lying if I said that there were a lot of people who approached me to become a co-founder of Chimp&z, to be honest, there wasn’t even one. I guess this was a point where most of the people either thought that I was kidding or just someone who talks a lot and won’t be able to go through this or they just felt like there was a lot of time for me to grow into someone who could handle the kind of dreams I had, or mature into a serious decision maker. Well in all honesty, I don’t blame them, I was 23.
People take co-founders as business partners and that is where the entire problem begins. One should select one’s co-founder with if not less, than equal amount of thought and care as one would select their life partner with. While all businesses start with a single vision and passion to create a change, slowly you will realise that Enterpresenurship is a lot more than Business, actually business in the long run ends up being 15% of your brain space, its the remaining 85% for which you don’t just need a business partner you need someone who will be standing with you through thick and thin and who isn’t afraid of doing a couple hundred extra miles when there is a need and no other way out.
While taking your first plunge in the world of Entrepreneurship, here are a few things you should keep in mind when selecting your co-founder.
Wavelength You don’t have to dress the same way, eat the same food, have the same background or even have the same thought process. But, you need to be on the same wavelength. Have multiple conversations with potential partners and ensure they understand your vision and you understand their thought process. Ensure that as individuals you are both on the same page even if there is a difference in opinion, ensure there is a space for you both or more to sit and argue out things before coming to conclusions which should be basis what is good for the overall health of the organisation and have healthy debates.
Setting Expectations When starting a new venture with a new partner, the single most important discussion to be had are the one’s where you both know what to expect from the business and in how long. For e.g. If you want to grow your business to a level X and ensure you can then get enough for the venture and have an exit plan in place, then be it. But ensure there is Clear communication between you and the partner before you take the plunge in the ocean of entrepreneurship. Because, you definitely don’t want to be sitting with that thought process alone at the time when you are supposed to take decisions. In the past 5 years, we have seen more businesses going down the drain than successes because of the lack of communication between people who are at the top.
Communicate to Flourish Since the history of mankind, if you go to see any major conflict it has only and only lead to one major logical solution, that is communication. Saying it like it is, is my way of working around problems and facing them head on. I don’t mind having a major argument but I do mind ignoring the problem because discussing it is going to spill some blood. No matter if it is a fuck-up or if it is something that is going to cause momentary uneasiness between individuals, if it is going to prevent a larger problem which might arise due to the lack of communication, face it and talk it out. Now, you need someone who is going to be working with you as an equal for you both to be able to approach each other in case there is a conflict, ensure you have clear communications with your to-be venture partner before the signing to get a feel of the conversations which will happen later.
Equality What is the one line advice I’d give to people who are starting up to become a successful entrepreneur in India? I’d say this and only this, ’It doesn’t matter if you have money, when you are starting up, but it does matter who you have with you (read co-founder/partner) when you decide to start working for yourself’. In my opinion I like to work with people as their equal, not above or below anybody, I believe that equality is what mankind was built on initially and that is exactly how we are going to go ahead together. Many people do throw in their contradictions, but I’d like to mention that if you really want the business to be a success ensure you have equal blood in the game, ensure there is equal split of responsibility, thought, hardwork, teams and vision and personal goals that are being achieved in the lifetime of the organisation. If you ask me the beginning of anything beautiful, be it a marriage or a business venture should be on the thought of equality. Because, once equal the part of the discussion where there could be conflict is not existent and there is a. Lot of brain space to do what you actually started up for in the first place.
YingYang I am someone who always thinks about tomorrow and Lavinn is someone who is more concerned about today, which in turn ends up creating a good mix of an discussion with both the opinions being right for flourishing and it leads to a decision which isn’t bias to just one out put but something that has been discussed at length and the outcome is what makes the decision beautiful. Having serparate routes of thinking actually helps us stay grounded and ensure we are walking a positive path at the end of most discussions. It’s important to have people from not-so-like minded backgrounds to ensure you don’t run the firm with a single track mind but with more than one strong opinion on the table.
If you use the above 4 base points before you get into the technicality of getting a business partner on board, there is a good chance of you making sure you don’t just startup, you start up healthy and also ensures you keep going strong forever on the path to becoming a successful businessman in India.
There is no better way to explain this better but from a human relationships perspective. When you think of a co-founder think of someone who you don’t mind growing old with as an individual, ensure you both grow together and without insecurity and the world will make are it carves a space for you in it’s history books.
The above blog is my personal opinion after studying the observations I have made in running An Integrated communications agency, Chimp&z Inc successfully across India and the UAE for the last 5 years and successfully consulting with another dozen startups. If there are any opinions, you are welcome to email me on angad(@)chimpandzinc(dot)com and I’d reply back as soon as possible. Or if you want to get in touch for a conversation on your big move, I’d be glad to talk.
The reason I mentioned Lavinn, who is my co-founder earlier in the blog was to establish the kind of /*relationship*/ I shared with him, even before he was the co-founder of the organization.