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Ep 160: Do I need a business PARTNER or CO-FOUNDER?



I would see all the cool aspirational startups like Airbnb, Dropbox, Instagram even and think, their business must have worked because they had a co-founder. Then I think back to entering a pitch competition for an accelerator, and it was pretty clear on the application that they would favor startups that had a pair of founders. I think the repetitive emphasis on co-founders had me associating success with having a partner in crime. But the question a co-founder or partner a valid way to ramp up success?

In this episode we'll talk about...

  • What having a partner or co-founder can do for you

  • If taking a partner path, how to ensure alignment

  • What's more important than any partnership to growing your business

I used to have a catering business, which I've talked about having it and just that the work that it took. It was a venture that I had built on my own. It was my company, I was the founder of it, but of course, I employed the help and support of others, execute it. But it was a venture I had taken up on my own. And when I did my second time around here, right as it got really serious and said, "No, I am going to grow a business. I am growing and building a multimillion-dollar company." I started to think differently about partnerships and collaborations and having a cofounder and all this other stuff. And as I went off and I've said several times, I didn't come to the place I am today.

Having known that off the bat at all, I started in that social entrepreneurship vein, then things changed a little bit and they changed again. At the place I'm in now, I said, "I think getting together with other people is important." And in fact, it's something that I've learned through the mini-courses that I've taken or challenges that I've taken, things that I've just learned from other people. Just the importance of collaboration and how that can help take you faster, getting in front of other people's audiences, that type of thing. And so the way that now shows up for me, even though I do not have a co-founder or a partner per se for my business, the, Spears Sparrow Collected, my company. I don't have that. But what I am very intentional about is partnering with other people in different spaces. So for example, those of you that are on my email list would have seen just a week or so ago, I had partnered up with Tristan Layfield of Layfield, a resume consulting. I had partnered up with him at the time. I was very, very focused on not only helping people leap into entrepreneurship, but helping people make a bigger impact even in the career they're in today because it really does dishearten me and saddened me to see people who are talented, who are worth so much more (I don't want to say given the opportunity because I, I don't believe in just being given an opportunity) but not be expressing and living out the full potential and capability that they have. And so either way, I had partnered together with Tristan and this had happened months and months ago and pretty much said, "All right, so you've got something to offer that touches in the space I offer in a different way."

And for me it was the Repackage You Academy program, which is regardless of if you are an entrepreneur or working a 9-to-5, if you want to leap and be doing something different, Repackage You Academy helps make you credible for any opportunity and helps you have the confidence and overcome that overwhelm to know that you are credible, you are qualified. You just have to re frame what's happened to you and your life experiences. On the other side of the quaint equation, Tristan and a lot of his clients were very focused on, "Okay, how do you now help me get it out there? How should my LinkedIn be different? How should my resume change all these different things to chase some of what they were after?" It was a perfect partnership to help bring an offering to life that would serve a segment and a population of people.

Now I want you to think if I were to venture off on my own and do something like that, yes I could well and good have done it, but one, there is a particular audience focus that he has that I don't necessarily have, but there is an overlap and the same thing is true for him. I have a particular audience segment, that he doesn't necessarily touch, especially as you get heavy into entrepreneurship, but there is an overlap there. And so why not come together to make the most of both audiences? We each can get in front of each other's audiences and bring a new solution to the market. Now I can do that faster than just going to build off some segment on my own. So having a partner along in your journey, or you don't even have to call them a partner, you can call them a collaborator, whatever you'd like to call them, really can help accelerate your growth, can help you get out there faster.

When you think about, "All right, taking on a partner and taking on a collaborator. I think I will do 8 episodes specific on the how-to's and getting aligned with the partner collaborator." We're not going to do this today but that crossing my mind. If that's something that you're interested in, drop me an email, shout out to me on Instagram, Twitter, what have you, and let me know that that's something that you're interested in. And we'll talk a little bit more about how that works. But this is what I do want to encourage you to do, if you are going the partner, collaborator, co-founder path, it is super important that you make sure that there is alignment. And when I say alignment, I don't necessarily just mean alignment from the aspect of, "Well, do I like this person or do I not like this person? Do I get along with this person or not?" It's bigger than that because you want to maximize the visibility that you're going to get. You want to be able to maximize even the solution that you're bringing. So, for example, if I was partnering up with someone who, let's say their audience was mainly focused on fixing trucks and cars, why would I have to, I'd have to look inside and work pretty hard and you can generally find an angle in most things, but I'd have to look pretty hard to say, "Okay, what's the angle? Once I've gotten in front of their audience and we've provided them this offer, how do I ensure I keep them engaged also inside of my business and offering value to them as I go along? How do I make sure that they are a part of my growth journey?" Because I'm continuously helping me and they continuously see that they want to be a part of the community, that they need to be a part of the community because I have something that they need, to help them move forward as well. So if you can't see that path of alignment, if you can't see yourself in that person's audience. And when the thing that you offer, the thing that you bring to the world, how you can best help them, that it might be wise for you to steer clear of doing that particular partnership.

If you are going the partner, collaborator, co-founder path, it is super important that you make sure that there is alignment. (Click to tweet)

The other thing that you want to be careful of is it's fine to have some overlap between what you do and what you offer, but you really want to look at where does your partner or collaborator have something that's extra value add that you don't necessarily want to just be two peas in a pod, essentially cannibalizing each other's success because you both offer the exact same thing. So there's a sweet spot of overlap. But ideally, if you have something and your partner has something that you also don't offer and they compliment each other, that's going to be your best, best, best, path of alignment there. Now let's think for a second. What is more important than any partnership to growing your business? Think about that for a second. I'll tell you what comes to my mind. I think one of the most important things is that you are super clear about who you want to serve and you're super clear about who you want to impact, how you want to impact them, what's the pain that they're having, what's the problem that they're having? Why do they need you? Why have they showed up at your door? If you can't answer that question, you're not ready for a partnership or any collaboration. I'm telling you right now, it's a setup for a train wreck in disaster because you will find yourself partnering and collaborating, but it may end up being throwaway because he realized, "Oh, that's completely not the direction I want to go in. It's this, it's that." And I'm telling you this from some experience, my own self where I've found, "Okay, yeah, this is great, but there's a piece of this that now feels a little bit different for me because I kind of wants to move in a different direction." And by the way, that's okay. And it's good to give you that visibility and exposure, but you're just going to have to work hard especially if you've had a successful collaboration and you decide to sort of switch course, you're going to have to work hard to figure out how you still provide love and care to the people that you've now attracted into your audience. Or how you keep them separate in some way or they will fall off and they will leave. So you work hard to say, "Okay, how do I engage them in a different way? How do I make sure you know they understand and had the option to choose to follow me on this journey or choose not to." So knowing who you want to serve, the impact that you want to make. Again, not that it can't evolve, but you have to be thoughtful about these things and that is your priority one before you go and looking to collaborate with anyone. Don't take my words and hold onto them. Go do something about it.

What is more important than any partnership to growing your business? Think about that for a second. (Click to tweet)


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