After studying some of the one million business owners who use Shopify, we’ve discovered that founder types tend to fall into one of five personality types. Which one are you? Start with our quiz.
Welcome, summer stargazers. Here we find ourselves still, in the middle of a global pandemic, trying our best to resume some form of “normal.” As we’ve discussed in the past, these are strange (at best) times to start or run a small business. But, as life moves forward, we are witnessing the power of the human spirit in those who have forged ahead or changed course. And even now, new ideas are coming to life—is it time to act on yours?
In this month’s instalment of The Founder’s Zodiac, we’re talking about business partnerships. Should you launch your idea alone or with a co-founder? How and where do you find business partners? And, based on your Founder Sign, who is the ideal partner for your big idea? Read on and take our compatibility quiz to discover your perfect match. The stars are aligning!
Mountaineers make ideal business partners for most signs due to their social nature, optimism, and growth mindset.
Our feature sign this month is The Mountaineer, a natural extravert who thrives in the company of others. Mountaineers make ideal business partners for most signs—even other Mountaineers—due to their social nature, optimism, and growth mindset.
How to find a business partner 🔦
Sometimes co-founder relationships materialize out of friendships or romantic partnerships, and sometimes they’re strictly business. If you’re looking to start a business with a partner and you’ve exhausted your personal network, here are a few places they may be hiding:
- Your professional network. Have you worked with someone in the past who possesses the qualities you’re looking for in a business partner? Reach out proactively and keep your LinkedIn profile updated to indicate that you’re open to networking opportunities.
- Your school or alma mater. Your working relationship with current or former classmates may indicate how compatible you are as co-founders. If you’re still a student, school is a natural incubator for small businesses. How do you test your ideas and partner compatibility as part of a group project?
- Conferences and meetup groups. If you’re a Mountaineer, Trailblazer, or Firestarter personality type, this is an ideal environment for you. Attend events—both digital and in-person—for potential co-founders within your industry.
- Friends of friends. Look one degree past your personal and professional networks—are there folks who you’d like to meet? Ask for an introduction. And be sure to share with friends what you’re working on—natural introductions may come your way.
- Networking apps. Until in-person networking events resume, this is one of the best ways to find potential co-founders and partners outside your existing networks (that’s great news for introvert-leaning Cartographers and Outsiders). Start with networking apps like Shapr or Bumble Bizz, where your odds of meeting like-minded people are high—you’re all there for the same reason, right? You can also find business partners within entrepreneur community groups on Facebook and other social platforms.
What to look for in a co-founder 👀
First, ask yourself the benefits of taking on a partner over launching or growing a business alone. Do you need someone to help conquer the work (there will be a lot)? Are you lacking experience or perspective in some areas? Do you work well with others? You should also understand what level of partner you’re looking for: an equal collaborator or someone who takes a role behind the scenes.
Business partnerships should be based on respect, trust, and communication.
Business partnerships should be based on respect, trust, and communication. This is a solid foundation for building a partnership that can weather the inevitable bumps on the path to success.
That’s not far removed from romantic partnerships. And while studies generally agree that opposites do attract, relationships that last are more likely due to similarities of the partners. Whether you take the “opposites attract” or “birds of a feather” approach to finding a partner, understand the potential pros and cons of each:
Birds of a feather flock together
Business partner compatibility test ❤️
What signs are most compatible as business partners or co-founders? First, we need to know a little bit more about you. Take our two-minute compatibility test below to discover your ideal match, then read on for a detailed look at how to make a partnership work, based on your personality type.
10 questions to ask before entering a business partnership 🤔
Once you’ve met someone, how do you accurately assess their compatibility as a business partner? Ask yourself these 10 questions about this person and your relationship.
- Do they bring ideas to the table, and do they listen to and consider your ideas?
- Do you already know them, and/or do they have solid references?
- If you are already in a non-business relationship or friendship with this person, have you discussed how you will establish boundaries?
- Are they as invested as you in the business idea (time, money, hard work)?
- Do you share similar goals and a common vision for the business?
- Are your skills complementary?
- Have you mutually decided on the roles you will fill in the partnership?
- If you’ve had conflict or a difference of opinion with them in the past, were you reasonably able to find a solution or compromise?
- Have you discussed what will happen to the business should it—or the partnership—fail?
- Are you both willing to protect yourselves legally and financially by committing the details and expectations to paper?
✅ If you answered yes to most of these questions, you have a better chance of building a mutually beneficial partnership. It’s not a perfect test, though—be sure to explore every “what if,” communicate often, and consult a legal professional to draft an agreement to protect the partnership and business.
❌ If you answered no to most of these questions, it doesn’t necessarily mean you're completely incompatible. But take these results as a sign that your partnership may require much more investigation before you put pen to paper.
Partnership ideas, based on your Founder’s Zodiac sign 🌟
If you’re looking to start a business, is it best to do it alone or with a co-founder? Should you find a business partner to help you take your existing business from good to great? The answer may depend on your personality type. Learn more about your partnership potential, based on your Founder Sign.
Jump to your sign:
Feature Sign: The Mountaineer
You’re our sign of honor this month, Mountaineer. You love the attention and you’re most comfortable when you’re right in the center of it. This is your moment!
Why Mountaineers make great partners
You’re a true team player, Mountaineer, and an asset to any entrepreneur looking for a partner to launch or grow a business. At your best surrounded by the ideas and energy of others, you’re likely to thrive in some version of a partnership, even though you usually like to be in the driver’s seat. You’re a natural leader and a social butterfly, inspired by connection. Growth-mindedness is a strength of yours, so you complement those with innovative ideas (like Trailblazers) or strong business plans (like Cartographers).
What Mountaineers should look for in a business partner or co-founder
What you lack, sometimes, Mountaineer, is attention to detail. Your great big ambitions just don’t leave you time to stop and focus. It’s why we think you’re an ideal partner, after all. But if you’re looking for a partnership that brings balance, a Cartographer is just the personality type to keep you grounded.
Mountaineers may also be compatible with Firestarters or Outsiders. The former is like minded and motivated by ideas but knows when to stop chasing rainbows. Firestarters are great at finding opportunities—and Mountaineers can take the best ones and run with them. Outsiders, on the other hand, may make suitable business partners for you if you both know how to stay in your lanes. The serious Outsider generally isn’t interested in growth or ideas—leave those tasks to you, Mountaineer. But don’t mess with their process or personal space.
🤝 Partnership potential score: 5/5
📚 Recommended read: These Friends Built a Beauty Brand to Help the World's Water Crisis. Meet two friends-turned-business-partners in our story about Vitaclean.
Mountaineer of note: Q&A withRenata Pappin, Co-founder of Vagaband
When Renata’s son, Walker, graduated from high school, she took him and his childhood friend Eddie on a trip through Asia. The adventure helped the trio solidify plans to start their business—inspired by another friend who passed away while travelling. Their idea: Vagaband, a waterproof travel wristband that records important personal information, like medications, allergies, and emergency contacts.
The global pandemic threw the partners a curve this year and they had to pause production, but it hasn’t affected their drive. In fact, they plan to expand the award-winning business in the coming months. “We’ll be debuting a whole range of digital, physical, and experiential products, all designed to keep travel safe,” says Renata.
We spoke to Renata about what it’s like to run a business with two partners—including her own son.
Shopify: Tell us about running a business with family.
Renata: It has its ups and downs, but, ultimately, I think it’s made for a stronger team dynamic. Sometimes the boundaries between home and work life get a little blurred—I’ll occasionally wake Walker up on a Sunday and start talking about Vagaband ideas I’d had the night before, and he’ll have to remind me that weekends “are a thing.” Overall though, I’d say it’s a good thing: it’s a bonding experience, and Walker and I have a very strong relationship, partly as a result of sharing challenges as well as successes.
Shopify: What are your respective roles in the company?
Renata: Walker’s always been a storyteller and a strategist, Eddie has a very pragmatic mind, and the guys have a running joke that I’m always on some kind of mission to save...something or other.
Shopify: What makes the three of you compatible as partners?
Renata: Walker’s like me—a Mountaineer—and Eddie’s a Cartographer. Sharing a sign with someone might sound like a dream pairing, but when you’ve got two dreamers in a team of three founders, it’s a lot of dreaming! If we didn’t have Eddie keeping us tethered to the real world, we would still be sitting around the same kitchen table surrounded by half-finished (but admittedly pretty awesome) ideas and straight-up fantasies. It’s a bit of a trope to go on about balance but, in all honesty, that’s the key to keeping things productive, energetic, and enthusiastic.
Why Trailblazers make great partners
What can we say? People love you. Your passion and enthusiasm for a project keep you motivated but also attract others to your side. An Outsider or Cartographer may seek you out to fill their own shortcomings, especially when it comes to the more front-facing parts of the business. You’re great at amplifying ideas, connecting with audiences, and bringing heart to a brand.
What Trailblazers should look for in a business partner or co-founder
Trailblazers like you can get caught up in the excitement of an idea without doing the work to test its viability or find a market. You know it’s going to work—you can feel it! And while passion and gut instincts can take you a long way, you’d benefit from a partnership that brings complementary traits like pragmatism or financial know-how. Look for Cartographer types who are willing to crunch the numbers or Firestarters who can turn ideas into money.
Mountaineers make great partners for most of the signs, including yours. You’ll benefit from your mutual enthusiasm and energy, and the future-thinking Mountaineer can help you live beyond the moment—can your idea grow into something even better?
🤝 Partnership potential score: 5/5
📚 Recommended read: “Just One Dress” Brought These Perfect Strangers Together. Learn how two women met on a whim and partnered to solve a common fashion problem.
Look up from your notes for a minute, Cartographer. You’re so far down a rabbit hole that you may have missed an opportunity. We know you’re happy alone, but hear us out—there are business relationships that can work for even a solo flier like you.
Why Cartographers make great partners
Great ideas don’t always make for successful businesses. There’s plenty of nitty gritty that happens behind the scenes and that’s right in your wheelhouse, Cartographer. But other signs, like Mountaineers, Firestarters, and Trailblazers, are less interested in the details. They’re lining up to partner with someone reliable, productive, and detailed like you. You anchor wild ideas and make them work on paper.
How solo-minded Cartographers can make business partnerships work
Let’s face it—sharing responsibility or letting go of any part of the process frightens you. You’re a lone wolf, Cartographer, and you’re good at it. Your organization traits mean you can usually juggle the one million tasks of a solopreneur with ease. You’re multi-talented and business-savvy—others may seek you out as a partner because of this. Before you instinctively say no, consider what types of partnerships might actually work for you.
Trailblazers are similarly motivated by passion, but bring skills that complement your own. They thrive as the face of a brand, while you may shy away from networking events or community outreach. If you’re looking to grow your existing brand but lack the risk-taking chops to do so, a Mountaineer or a Firestarter might work as a partner, too.
Ultimately a full-fledged partnership may not work for you at all, though. There are ways to augment your own well-rounded self with arms-length “partners” who bring specific skills to the table—PR agencies, marketers, influencers—and who you can hire as consultants.
🤝 Partnership potential score: 3/5
📚 Recommended read: The Duo Behind Bookhou, a Modern Day Mom and Pop Shop. Hear the story of how life and business partners John and Arounna make it work.
Why Firestarters make great partners
As a Firestarter, you’re a master at sniffing out a great idea and executing quickly. Your risk-tolerant nature is appealing to those who are a little less confident about making the first move. Trailblazers, who are driven by passion, would benefit from your strong business sense. Cut through the fluff: does the business have legs or should it remain a passion project? You keep sentimentality out of the equation and you know when to kill an idea—idealistic Mountaineers would benefit from this superpower.
What Firestarters should look for in a business partner or co-founder
While you thrive in social situations, you’re not one to be tied down. Look for partnership opportunities that are relatively hands-off. That way, you still have time to work other angles. You may be just the one to get a great idea off the ground before letting a Cartographer or Outsider take care of the day-to-day running of the business. Be wary of partnerships that tether you to one opportunity and don’t allow you to diversify.
Mountaineers might also make great partners, as you’re similarly motivated by ideas but have complementary strengths. Their growth-minded personalities are best suited to iterating on the winning ideas that you bring forward.
🤝 Partnership potential score: 3/5
📚 Recommended read: From High School Sweethearts to Serial Entrepreneurs. Learn what it takes to balance life and work from two seasoned business owners.
You’re typically solo on your entrepreneurial journey, Outsider. No co-pilot necessary—you’re naturally blessed with an internal GPS. Destination: a stable and secure business. But what if you want more? There are people out there who may help make positive changes to your business, even if you’re not really a people person.
Why Outsiders make great partners
Dependable and detail-oriented, you instill trust in others. While you’re not generally the big picture type, you are skilled at the execution. Mountaineers and Firestarters may seek you out as a partner for this reason.
How solo-minded Outsiders can make business partnerships work
You are a person who thrives on quiet, predictable work. Your well-oiled machine chugs along with you at the controls. Why fix what isn’t broken, right? There are arguments for engaging in a business partnership, though, Outsider—trust us. As someone managing every aspect of your business, you’re bound to deprioritize or neglect some things. Partnering with a Cartographer could allow you to focus on production while they make the numbers work on paper. Financial security is, after all, a big driver for you.
If you’re still not convinced, consider other types of “partners” that don’t require relinquishing any control over your business. You can work with skilled experts to patch holes in your process or free up time for you to focus on your strengths.
🤝 Partnership potential score: 1/5
📚 Recommended read: Inuit Life Inspired Their Cross-Cultural Love—and Whale Soap. Hear from the partners who built a handmade business around a cultural tradition.
If you’ve yet to determine your Founder Sign, take our quiz, then sign up for our newsletter. The Founder’s Zodiac runs every month and offers up advice and relevant content curated just for your type.
Illustrations by Alice Mollon