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To partner or not to partner: The Co-founder Conundrum

Building your own company and running it successfully is challenging to say, at the very least. Every day is a new fight in the yard, and it can be tough to go through it alone. Business is a lot like life – you’re thrown into uncharted waters and navigating them in the best way possible, is your own burden. However, having the right person by your side will make your job easier. In this blog, you’ll learn about the pros and cons of having a co-founder and what you should be looking for in a business partner.

Let’s start with the most basic question -

Do you even need a co-founder?

You might not ‘need’ one, but your business will benefit deeply if you let another person join you. The quality of the relationship among co-founders is one of the most important elements of successful startups. Now, let’s look at some of the advantages of having a co-founder.

1. You get to share the burden. Your partner will act a soundboard for your thoughts. Sometimes our perspectives can be biased, and it always helps to have an extra set of eyes to validate your ideas or nudge you in the right direction.

2. Two brains are better than one. One of the biggest perks of having a co-founder is that both of you bring your individual skill sets to the table. You can divide responsibilities based on what interests you both, personally.

3. Investors backing. The pursuit of external funding will become a lot smoother. Investors usually back companies led by a team – they believe in firms run by multiple founders and are likely to fund them more easily.

4. You make better decisions. Brainstorming together will help you come up with great ideas and you will also be well equipped to seal the gaps in those ideas by questioning each other.

62% of startups fail due to co-founder conflicts.

Just like every relationship, business relationships have their downside too. Here are some points you need to take stock of before leaping into a co-ownership.

1. Disagreements (A lot of them). Let’s get right into it – conflicts are inevitable. You won’t always see eye to eye with your partner and sometimes, those arguments can snowball into something you can no longer control.

2. Work inequity. If you are unclear about each other’s roles and responsibilities, that confusion could lead to one of you feeling like they work harder than the others.

3. You must share everything. While it’s a good thing that you can distribute the work evenly, you must also split the profits accordingly. If that doesn’t work, then flying solo is probably better suited for you.

Being a co-founder is strangely like being in a marriage, and the key to every successful marriage is – open and honest communication.

When you’re searching for a co-founder, be sure that you are on the same page as them. The only way to find out is by talking to them regularly and not hesitating to give honest feedback. Don’t talk to them only to give out criticism or feedback, reach out if you need help and appreciate them if they’ve done well.

As you speak to potential co-founders, find out their inclination towards empowering people. This shows their commitment towards helping your customers, their focus on creating a problem-solving product, and their perspective on building and enabling a great team within the company.

Every entrepreneur seeks to create an impact through their business. Ensure that your co-founder has the same desire and drive as you - to build a business that lasts.

When it comes to skills, it doesn’t matter if your areas of expertise are polar opposites or pretty much the same. While complementary skills allow you to focus on your individual strengths, you’ll still need to step out of your comfort zone to get the job done. Set out clear boundaries from the onset to avoid any “I thought that was your job” discussions when it comes to doing things that you both don’t enjoy.

Even if your skills overlap a lot, you can still make it work. Two co-founders with good sales abilities can create a great pitch for investors. If both founders enjoy the tech side of things, then operations will run smoothly right from the beginning. Respecting each other’s boundaries will allow you to build a company with an environment where everyone is respected and heard.

Find someone with similar business goals. If you’re a bootstrapper, your partner needs to share that thought as well. Clear it out in the beginning, because some entrepreneurs consider bootstrapping to be a step in the initial stages of a startup’s growth, whereas others think of it as an ideal state for the lifetime of the business.

The same applies for selling the company too. Most people pursue the idea of a big exit, but some founders don’t prefer it. It is advisable to discuss it before you sign that dotted line to prevent any unpleasant surprises, where one founder is excited about selling the company for a good price but the other one disregards it.

The thing about partnerships is that when they work out, they really work out.

Finding a co-founder who shares your vision for the company’s future and the passion to build it, is truly incredible. If you can resolve conflicts mindfully then, bringing a partner onboard will certainly boost the growth of your business to a large extent. Just make sure you consider all aspects before going into business with someone. Once you do, just buckle up and enjoy the ride.

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