Startup dilemma - Should I go solo or build a team?


3 min read

Today, we address one of the biggest predicaments entrepreneurs find themselves in when starting up their venture  - should they opt to be a one-person army and go down the strenuous path of solopreneurship, or go by the old wise saying that building a solid team is the way to success. So how exactly these differ in their approach, and which one has a better chance of success?

For the starters, a solopreneur never builds his/her business for the eventual buyout. Going solo means dedicating all your energies, skills and resources towards a singular path that leads to your one main goal, only to find out later whether or not you chose the right path to walk on.

While building a team and having partners can mean multiple sources of cash flow, which will undoubtedly benefit your business during both start-up and growth phases. The risk of your investment will be spread among other people, which can protect you if your business doesn’t work out as planned.

So going it alone will certainly give you full autonomy and control of your business, but if you choose to go with a partner, it may allow you to expand into a more dynamic approach.

There are benefits to both sides—here are some thoughts from entrepreneurs to consider when starting up:

Look for Opposite Skill Sets

“I think the benefits of co-founders greatly outweigh the pitfalls. One of the greatest benefits occurs when you select a co-founder who has a different skill set than you. This means you can effectively cover twice as much ground. It also means that you can excel at two different aspects of the business. Many founders are good at one side of the business but fail at the other. Co-founders solve this issue because they are experts in different fields.”

– Dave Nevogt,

Find your purpose

“In the early days of SinglePlatform I really focused my work on validating the market by meeting with local businesses. What I found was an incredible opportunity for small businesses, especially given the proliferation of online sites where consumers could search for a business. This market need was a major driver for me and motivated me to become the sole founder of SinglePlatform. So while the early days of validating the market was a solo exploration period for me, the reward of learning about the market need for SinglePlatform definitely helped push me forward and outweighed the negatives of tackling those challenges by myself.”

- Wiley Cerilli, SinglePlatform

Skills, Efforts, and Credibility

“I see the role of a seed-stage CEO pretty clearly. Your role is to marshal the resources necessary to get to the next phase/level/step. Thus, your analysis of what you need to get this off the ground is pretty simple. Do I have the necessary skills to execute the first phase? If not, you best find a partner or co-founder. Too many founders operate on a vision of the company three years from now when there are customers, employees, desks & chairs, and strategic decisions to make. Very few of you understand what steps are necessary to get to that place. The amount of effort required to find product/market fit is large. Do you have the bandwidth to produce the level of effort necessary to get there? Lastly, what resources do you need NOW to give you the credibility to get through to the next level? If you have never raised investment capital before, you are a risk. Having a team of people around you could bring additional credibility. More credibility = increased odds of securing capital. If you have the skills, effort, and credibility to go it alone--fantastic. If not, make finding co-founders a priority early on and you just might find that 1 + 1 equals 3.”

- Chris Heivly, MapQuest

Create a Balance of Differing Opinion

“Going it alone and controlling all of the decisions sounds nice and glamorous, but it’s considerably more difficult than having a co-founder. When you don’t have another person who’s as involved in the details as you are, you don’t get to brainstorm or debate the details, which is incredibly important. Having multiple co-founders can sometimes be a mess because you can create a situation where there isn’t any single decision-making voice, leaving some decisions in limbo for longer than necessary. I prefer to stick with two co-founders, creating a nice balance of differing opinions.”

– Adam Callinan, BottleKeeper

Build a Business Faster

“Having created startups as both a solopreneur and with co-founders, my preference is having other co-founders for three reasons: 1. Having a partner to share highs and lows makes the psychological impact of building a business easier. 2. Starting a business with co-founders with different skill sets will enable you to grow faster. Otherwise, you will have to become an expert in multiple disciplines. 3. Cash flow is crucial to the success of any business, and having multiple co-founders eases the burden of capital expenses early on when the business is in the build phase.”

– Adam Root, Hiplogiq

Make more revenue with the team

“There was once a time when it was just me. I was providing computer services. I was working a lot of hours. But I wasn’t making any money at it. Today, I’m making money. Why? Because I’m supervising 10 people who are providing computer services for me. I’m making money off of them. Want to quit your job and be a one-person shop? I have bad news for you, and you need to hear it now, before it’s too late. You won’t be able to make a lot of money if you’re running a one-person business. Maybe, just maybe you might make a living. But that's all.”

– Gene Marks, The Marks Group

Himanshu Bhalla