Finding The Perfect Co-Founder: Qualities That Matter

by | Apr 27, 2024 | Entrepreneurship

co founder communication complementary skills drive successful partnerships.

Daria, a COREageous entrepreneur from Florida writes: I’m looking for a co-founder for my startup. I’ve met several people who are good candidates, but I think I need a checklist of sorts instead of just relying on my gut. I’ve been told that having the right co-founder can make all the difference between success and failure.

You are right on, Daria, about the importance of finding the right co-founder!  Here are the most important traits to look for when interviewing co-founders:

One of the most crucial aspects of a successful co-founder relationship is complementary skills. While it’s great to have someone who shares your passion and vision, it’s equally important that they bring a different skill set to the table. If you’re the creative visionary, look for someone who excels in operations or finance. This synergy will ensure that you cover all bases and can tackle challenges from multiple angles, while also balancing the give and take of the relationship.

What skills or areas of expertise are weakest for you? What kind of tasks do you disdain and cannot outsource? Find these as strengths in your co-founder.

While complementary skills are essential, shared values and vision are equally important. Your co-founder should be aligned with your long-term goals for the company and share your values and principles.

Can you clearly articulate your vision for a candidate?  What are your values and principles?

There will be setbacks, failures, and moments of doubt along the way. That’s why resilience and grit are invaluable qualities in a co-founder.

Can your candidate give examples of how they made tough decisions, bounced back from failure and persevered through tough times?  

Clear and open communication is the cornerstone of any successful partnership, and the co-founder relationship is no exception. Look for someone who can communicate effectively, listen mindfully* and provide constructive feedback.

When speaking with them, do you feel heard and understood? Have you observed their communication skills in other social situations? What are they like under stress? 

While past success is not a guarantee of future success, it can be an indicator of someone’s ability to deliver results. Look for a co-founder who has a track record of achievement in their field, whether it’s launching successful startups, leading teams, or driving growth in a corporate setting.

What specific kind of expertise are you looking for in a co-founder?   

Adaptability and flexibility are essential qualities in a co-founder. You need someone who can pivot when necessary, embrace change, and thrive in uncertain environments. The ability to quickly adjust course and execute based on feedback and solid evidence is crucial for staying ahead of the curve.

Again, ask for examples of their ability to pivot and produce in less than ideal conditions.  

Last, but certainly not least, trust is the foundation of any successful partnership. You need to have complete trust in your co-founder’s integrity, judgment, and commitment to the venture.

Because trust is something that takes time to build, is there any evidence from shared contacts about your candidate’s trustworthiness?

For further reading on the topic of co-founder relationships, I highly recommend checking out this insightful article on Forbes: Five Ways To Find The Right Co-Founder (

With the right co-founder by your side, you’ll have a powerful ally as you embark on the exhilarating journey of entrepreneurship. So, take your time, choose wisely, and together, you can turn your startup dreams into reality.

*Learn the characteristics of what it means to be a Mindful Listener. Get my book/Audiobook: “The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction.” : the zen of listening, rebecca shafir


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Rebecca’s CoreFour Coaching

“It takes more than courage to be an Entrepreneur, it takes CORE.” Find out more. 

Who is Rebecca Shafir? Speech/language pathologist, author, voice and executive function coach
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