The first thing we thought about before this few day meeting was what does it take to start a company. There are plenty of articles on the subject and of course there are numerous factors, including timing, idea, funding, etc. What’s always for sure though is that you have the right people to execute.
According to Joel on Software‘s article on “Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality”, you shouldn’t start a business by yourself. Having another person there helps drive you harder and keeps you accountable, sort of like having a workout partner who makes sure you go to the gym. Having another person on board also helps to validate the idea. If you can come up with an idea and someone wants to go in and help you execute the idea, that commitment alone is a great validation and confidence booster that you might be on to something.
You can’t just grab anyone off the street that thinks your ideas is great though, there has to be some kind of selection process. According to Entrepreneur.com‘s article on “Picking the Right Partner”, you want to have someone that complements you. For example, if you’re a visionary, it would be great to have someone very operational. Or if you’re technical, having someone who’s business-focused. However, this doesn’t mean you have to go find someone that’s the complete opposite. The keyword here is complement. It’s totally possible to have people with overlapping skills with a few differentiating qualities be great complements. If you think about it numerically, you should be able to have a partnership with a 80/20 (technical/business) partner and a 20/80 partner or a partnership with a 55/45 (technical/business) partner and a 45/55 partner.
Looking at someone’s skills is just one aspect of selection. Starting a small business becomes a very personal thing. This means you need someone you can trust, be honest with, and know is commited to the same goals. This is where you need to have an open discussion – if you can’t even do that with a potential partner then you know it’s not a fit.
Finally, it comes to gut and feel. After going through all these criteria, how comfortable do you feel? What’s your intuition? Can you forsee working with them through thick and thin? In the end it’s only a question you can answer through some searching within, but hopefully these guidelines will help you along the way.