Knowledge | 4 min read

Tips For Establishing An Effective Co-founder Relationship

Tips for an effective co-founder relationship
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Starting up a business may seem easy in the beginning, but there's a lot to take into consideration, especially if you're considering a co-founder relationship.

Even if it's viable to open a business on your own, having a business partner can increase the chances for fruitful future success.

What is a business relationship?

A business relationship can be defined in a few ways, considering the distance between the players.

There might be a social distance which measures the familiarity with each other’s ways of thinking and working, as well as a cultural distance which measures the norms and values that define both parties.   

Co-founder: with or without?

Creating a company by yourself can be time-consuming and add unnecessary stress.

Although it's not obligatory to find a co-founder, being uncertain about the future path of the startup can be an issue managed with the help of others, especially if you're a rookie in the entrepreneurship world. Finding a person with a little bit of experience could speed up the process of starting a company, and have a higher chance of the company becoming a success.

Having a co-founder also lessens the pressure on your shoulders, since the responsibility of the company is divided between both (or multiple) owners.

Finding the right person

It may seem impossible to find the right person, but there's always somebody who will be on the same wavelength. Even if we discuss business, there's a need for friendship and having fun in the end.

Building trust takes time, notably if the co-founder has a "colorful" personality, and could be the cause of potential friction if you don't learn how to cope with one another.

It’s an intense relationship to say the least, and it’s always important to take time to consider who you want to take along for the ride. Picking a member of the family is quite common. Some startups choose friends or partners as co-founders too.

Of course, partnering with someone so close to you comes with its challenges. There's no guarantee that it'll be an issue-free collaboration. But at the very least, it will ease the process of cooperating with others in the future.

From another point of view, choosing a good friend can represent a drawback as according to Forbes, 90% of the startups are prone to failure. This can happen when the relationship irreversibly changes even after you have attempted to reassess it.  

How do you build the relationship?

Just like all relationships, the one between founders can take a lot of time and practice. You may even have to go through the difficult process of dumping your co-founder.

With both the strengthening of an existing relationship, and a new one, there are countless factors to take into the consideration.

Communication and honesty are crucial because people have to know what is on our minds. We’re not capable of mind reading.

It also saves you from jeopardizing the future of the business. The relationship with the co-founder can decide on the success or failure of the enterprise.

Considering the legal part

Just like a marriage, a co-founder relationship needs hard work and contractual agreements. The legal part can be unpleasant, but it is something that needs to be done. The less you know about the legal decisions, the more issues you can expect to arise.

Referring to a relevant article by Forbes, “10 Common Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Starting Up,” we can pick some appropriate questions to ask.

They'll help you make a general assessment about how to approach your co-founded startup:

  • How much commitment is expected from each founder to the business?
  • If one founder isn’t living up to the expectations of the agreement made between the founders, how do you resolve it?
  • What is the overall goal and vision for the business?

It's vital to state all the legal regulations and have a clear agreement considering the questions stated above.

Tips for a balanced relationship

It's all about balance
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The most relevant points to consider include:

  • Making clear the aim of the startup;
  • Define the roles and responsibilities;
  • Creating a legal agreement;
  • Spending time outside the office;
  • Working together;
  • Constant and clear communication;
  • Stating your opinion.

Examples of co-founded businesses that became successful

Not every entrepreneur needs a co-founder to gain popularity and ultimately become a successful company.

But according to Business Insider, companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Twitter and Hewlett-Packard had amazing breakthroughs due to their similar views and common aspirations.

Where to meet potential co-founders?

One of the best ways to find a potential partner is to write a list of skills needed for your business, and most importantly, find the ones that complement yours.

"The most likely and easiest way to find a partner is online, on networks like LinkedIn or Facebook."

Don’t be scared to join and explore startup platforms such as:

Other options include attending entrepreneurship events and trade fairs, networking and associates from previous projects, or even in co-working spaces, accelerators and incubators.

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Written by: Taylor Ryan, CMO at Valuer.ai

Taylor grew up in Washington, DC but currently resides in Copenhagen, Denmark. He's published multiple marketing e-books and co-founded 5 startups. He is now the CMO of a venture backed Ai Company Valuer.ai.

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