I never really got the hang of the whole online dating scene. It’s very hard to sift through all bios, to figure out who I might like based on a few words on a webpage. Most of my relationships started with prior acquaintance. People I already met, had an interaction with, formed some sort of an opinion on. I am not a solo founder because I think it’s the best way to go or because I’m against having a co-founder. I haven’t met the right person. It just didn’t work out that way. And I wasn’t going to let it get in my way.
Choosing a co-founder is an incredibly important decision. Bigger than marriage, and more like deciding to have a child together. I have seen what bad co-founding dynamics can do to a startup. It is not a decision I felt like I could take lightly. Perhaps I over-thought it. Perhaps I started too late when I was already set on my vision. And perhaps I’m just too stubborn. However, I accept the road that is laid before me, and I’m grateful to be able to walk it.
As I got to know the startup world I found a lot of advice cautioning against being a solo founder. In fact, some investors and accelerators will straight up rule out solo founders. While I agree with some of the reasoning against being a solo founder, I don’t think it should stand in your way of starting a startup. And since everyone likes a good list, I made two:
Here’s why you shouldn’t be a solo founder:
No one is great at everything. We all have things we are better at and with a co-founder, especially one that complements your skills, you are going to have a broader set of tools to work with (yes, I am looking at you too, technical co-founders).
No two minds think alike. A co-founder provides a sounding board and someone to check your assumptions. It is easier to stay on course with two eyes focused on it.
It will make investors and accelerators weary of picking your company. As I’ve mentioned before I’m not looking for funding at this stage, but accelerators have pointed it out as a disadvantage. The team is a huge component in those decisions, especially at an early stage, and having only one person on the team means you have to impress all on your own.
Last but definitely not least, being an entrepreneur is a lonely road. Being a solo-founder is doubly so. It is very hard to be the only power driving. It is very hard to keep motivating yourself. It is very hard to be alone in this journey. Honestly, I think this is the strongest of these points to consider.
These are all really good and important reasons why you should find a co-founder. But here are some reasons why it’s ok to be a solo-founder:
Bad dynamics between co-founders can ruin a business. I have seen it happen, it ain’t pretty. And much like in a marriage, the biggest casualty is the child (not guilt tripping!). In this case the business.
Contrary to popular belief, being a solo founder is not a sure disaster. In fact most hard numbers show that solo-founded companies are more successful.
Sometimes you just don’t find another person to share this road with. It shouldn’t stop you from trying.
I am a solo founder. Having walked this road alone for the past 10 months I don’t recommend it as your initial strategy. It is, as I said, lonely and difficult. Everything will be on you. However I don’t regret going out on this road with the tools I had available at the time. And while for my next voyage I will try harder to find a co-founder, like in this round I will not let that fact prevent me from doing this. (yes I definitely see myself buildining another business after this one, whether I succeed or fail!)
So a shoutout to all you single founder and co-founders and anyone else who needs to hear it - you are doing a great job! Keep on going! Just do you!