Abdo Riani Senior Contributor
I write about bootstrapping startups and small businesses.
Today, there are probably thousands of teams in the world who can help you build your app idea and a few hundred of them can work with your budget. How do you choose the right team? A decade of hiring will teach you that agreeing on the budget is important, but if you don’t pay close attention to these five partner-fit signals, no small or significant amount of money will make the partnership successful.
1. Are You Their Ideal Partner?
Your technical team or partner have businesses of their own and one of the first rules of business is to identify and focus on an ideal buyer. Out of your narrowed pool of potential partners, chances are only a small percentage specializes in your business model and technology. And a smaller percentage, picked early-stage startups as their ideal segment.
Ideally, you want to work with someone who has already accounted for your startup as part of their business journey. Besides their experience in the field, they tend to be more committed to helping you build a successful startup. Therefore, one of the important things you should keep in mind in your hiring, starting with your job description, is attracting talents from your space, who have worked with entrepreneurs at your stage.
2. Are You Their Priority?
If you want to increase the probability of success of your startup, you need a committed partner. When it comes to building startups, commitment isn’t just about focusing on executing the defined scope. More important than execution is openness and willingness to change directions quickly based on customer and market insights.
If the team is busy with other projects, doesn’t consider you an ideal partner, or their return doesn’t justify the needed commitment, the misalignment of interests will most likely lead to failure of the partnership and probably the startup.
3. Why Did They Discount Their Services?
When I started my first venture, one of my biggest challenges was finding a passionate entrepreneur with a complementary background to help me build my startup. After meeting with several candidates, I thought I found the right team member. The only problem was, I couldn’t afford his services.
I thought that if I sold the vision and revenue potential of the business, he would agree to delay a portion of his compensation until we meet certain milestones. A few meetings later, he agreed and we were off to a great start but it didn’t take long until it got harder and harder to get ahold of him and the partnership was quickly terminated.
Long story short, it’s important to differentiate between reducing costs by reducing the scope of work and discounting services by reducing their compensation. If you found someone that you really want to work with, the best way to come up with a fair agreement is by discussing the scope. Most of the time, it’s not going to be equity or your sales skills of the company’s vision.
If you ever see yourself trying to convince a service provider like a technical partner, it’s a sign that things will most likely not work out over the long-run.
4. Are They Trying To Fill A Gap With Your Startup?
It’s not because you don’t fall into your technical partner’s target group that they won’t try to sell you their involvement in your startup. In general, if a business is growing and has reached capacity, it will hire to maintain the growth momentum unless they’re satisfied with their performance. But if it’s not, it will go above and beyond to find work that can keep the business afloat.
If you like the team but feel that you don’t fall into their target segment, the question you want to ask is, are they trying to fill a gap with my startup? It’s not hard to find this answer by simply asking them about their previous and current projects.
5. What Will Happen After The First Phase?
The first product launch phase is one small milestone in the startup journey. Ideally, your technical partner will work with you for many years to come and possibly become a co-founder. If this is how you also envision your partnership, it’s important to ask about it early on. Simply ask how they see things moving forward post-launch.
In conclusion, it’s not just about the money. Use this 5-question checklist to evaluate your potential technical partners. Picking the right team to launch your startup idea is the first key decision you will make as a founder. Choose wisely.
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