Business planning · Cofounder

Early stage, should I be trying to get a cofounder (solo right now) or work on a complete business plan?

David Matthews Founder of Varys (Crowdsourcing HumInt Solutions) progressing past idea looking for a cofounder

August 17th, 2017

I have outlines of my business plan and pitch deck, but I have neither a cofounder nor a complete business plan. If my goal is to have a successful seed; will accomplishing one before the other make both easier and lead to better results?

Hugh Proctor Hard working, dedicated and innovative CEO / CTO

August 18th, 2017

Hi David,

I really like Scott's reply but felt I'd like to add to it.. from my own experience.


Finding a CoFounder is like finding a wife, you have to date a lot before you find The One and even then it's likely to end in a divorce, so make sure you have some kind of pre-nump.


If I were you, from my mistakes, I would, (you'll not get it all perfect on the first draft, it's an iterative process of continuous improvement):


1. Create a marketing brochure - a full front and back image of what your doing, how your doing it and why would someone be interested. (at least then you can get it printed and have it explain)


2. Use the marketing brochure to create your pitch deck.


3. Go to a lot of networking events: Tech events, Programming meetups, Industry specific meetups and Pitching events. (Though I wouldn't pay to do these things)


4. If you happen upon someone who you feel adds value, make sure that your using them to drive your passion and that you are getting things done. Don't be surprised when you ask them to see their input and they haven't done anything.


5. Don't get depressed when they leave, because they will leave. Have a diary of things that you Have to Do, and, more importantly, Have Done. The Have Done pile should start staking up and this will keep your energy high. (It's a pro Golfer trick)


6. Start a website early, with nothing much on it but a basic description, and start getting people to subscribe. Create a mailing list and email them regularly (weekly) upon your progress.


7. You can't get funding without a CoFounder, at least you can't in the UK, it's stupid I know. So, when you go to pitch at least have someone standing next to you who can explain what your doing.


8. Your best CoFounder, is your girlfriend / wife, get them to understand what your doing, have them write a little about it and then this will make it easier when talking to Investors. Most investors don't know much about anything, either old money or are just some guy working in a company, they might as well be called a glorified secretary. Smart investors are very hard to come by. If you can find a proper Mentor / Investor, then you'll be doing great and they will mitigate the risks for you.


9. Ironically, a lot of tech start ups aren't money making entities; sadly the day of investors investing in traction based companies has dried up. So you need to find a way to monetize; Google ads isn't usually enough Subscriptions is the way to go.


10. Keep working, every week, a little bit on your business plan. Expect it to be the case, that when all your friends are going out for a beer or having a BBQ / Birthday, you're doing your Business Plan.


11. Remember, your in a race, a race against your yourself, your finances, your family and friends, your cofounder. Be fast and get it done Today.


Good luck.

Scott Sapire

August 17th, 2017

I always lean towards building the best team possible but that breaks both ways. You'll build a better team the further along you are and you'll get further with a team.


Pros of finding Co-Founder now:

1) more likely to accomplish all of the tasks

2) best way to fill in gaps in expertise

3) can be attractive to an investor who wants two people doing the work, not one


Cons of finding Co-Founder now:

1) Equity - but 100% of nothing is nothing

2) likely divorce - 80% of partnerships will break up. Just make sure you cover all the scenarios and how to extract a team member and move on when the event happens.

3) Too many cooks - so if you're a visionary, bring in an integrator/operator, not another visionary.

Eric Kaufman Managing Director, Acumen Business Advisors,llc, Startegic Advisor to startups and small businesses

August 17th, 2017

David.

The answer to your question depends upon what critical areas you're missing.

Have you already pre-validated the necessity and market acceptability of your idea?

What responsibilities (leadership, management, coding, marketing or sales) would this co-founder need to handle?

Co-founders need to complement (not duplicate) you, your strengths and your skills.

I agree with what Mr. Sapire has written. Having the right co-founder provides many benefits - especially when it comes to attracting investors.

In order to start the conversation with any candidates, I suggest presenting a one-page BP for their review.

Hope this helps.

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

August 17th, 2017

I was recruited as a "CoFounder" for a company that had it's plan. I self terminated because that plan (built by a single person) was not addressing the issues of the product/market fit, did not deal with the feedback the VC community was giving, and was short on actual product and long on words. The Founder refused to make any modifications because he was in love with his words. I will not do that again. If a person is actually a CoFounder, then they are part of, and bring expertise to, the plan, direction, product, and future. Being a name in a slide deck has less than no value for anyone. Find a CoFounder and build something together.

Bill Lennan Red Rope Social - everyone is an influencer.

August 20th, 2017

I've tried the partner route and 3 times couldn't get it together.


This time I started a business expecting to go it alone and it's working. The only roadblock to progress is myself.


I'm not a fan of going for angel/vc until revenue is evident.

I'm bootstrapping to prove to myself ( and anyone else ) that we provide revenue generating value to our clients.


Guy Kawasaki, Eric Ries, Gary Vaynerchuk, and the founders of Basecamp have excellent books on this topic.

Leslie Cannon Founder @LCA, LLC food science, manufacturing, sales, research and development

August 17th, 2017

Do the business plan, then look for a co founder.

Paul Garcia President at TABLE

August 17th, 2017

Scott has a good handle on the pros/cons. You're so early you are still in the idea phase. Unless you created your idea with someone else and that's who your co-founder is right now, you're not ready to express your idea fully to ANYONE else. There is no sense in creating a pitch deck until you have a fully formed business plan. You burn opportunities if you present your idea to investor candidates who say "Tell me more" and you say, "I'm not done with my business plan yet." How could you possibly have a pitch ready if you don't even have your research and numbers ready?


No, don't seek a co-founder yet. Get your feet under you so you can speak with 100% confidence about every nuance. Practice with some friends in describing your idea and let them poke holes in your plan. Sit down with the folks at SCORE if you need help completing your business plan. But by all means, you MUST do your research first and be prepared to answer every question you might be asked, whether that's from someone you want to negotiate a founder relationship with or an investor relationship.


The worst thing you can do is get ahead of yourself. Right now you have limitless time to prepare. Once you get started asking for money, the clock moves very quickly. You can't raise funds and work on your plan at the same time. You need to be completely ready to jump. Once you start hiring a team, you're also burning money.

David M

September 19th, 2017

To respond to some of these answers-Putting together a solid business plan with financials is not "easy." A proper plan, if you put 20-30 hours a week into it could easily take you 3 months to develop. You can develop with your business partners, if you are depending on their specific skill set in an area such as marketing or financials. Why would you want a great advisor if you are not incorporating his/her knowledge into your plan prior to meeting with investors??? That is absurd. Now maybe you will want to take a first pass at the plan..sure, but your team should make you and your business plan better. Furthermore, the business plan is first and foremost for YOU, not the investors. You will answer close to a hundred core questions in constructing a proper business plan. The answers you find will guide you in putting together a competent approach to your business. THIS is what investors value..not the plan, but YOUR UNDERSTANDING AND COMPETENCE that is illustrated and woven into the plan. Take some of these peoples' "advice" with a grain of salt.

Jeff Badovick I'm an inspirational business coach and I help people achieve major breakthroughs in business.

August 22nd, 2017

Consider a Business Coach. An experienced coach can be invaluable resource to help guide you along every phase of your journey.


The benefits of a Business Coach can be a huge asset and an alternative that allows you to hold onto your equity.

  • A wealth of knowledge and experience
  • Guidance to get you up to speed faster and shorten your learning curve
  • Support to overcome adversity and avoid costly mistakes
  • Positive encouragement that helps you build confidence and make firm decisions
  • A sounding board for evaluating your thoughts and ideas
  • Input to hone your leadership skills and characteristics
  • Inspiration to think creatively and innovate beyond your current mindset
  • Access to a network of relationships that can lead to new business opportunities
  • Someone you can trust to always be honest and give you an unbiased perspective

All the best,

Jeff



Keith Mintz Founder, CEO, Entrepreneur, Spiritual Life Coach

August 18th, 2017

I would love to collaborate on what we can and help with your business plan if I can! I'v done many of them! The toughest part is the financial spread sheet (costs & profits) Which I can send you if you would like!