How to sustain a healthy co-founding relationship

Sharing the spotlight with your co-founder.
by
Entrepreneurship
September 27 | 3 min

Although it is possible to launch a company on your own, working with a co-founder makes it twice as easy; after all, two heads are better than one. Of course, there have been successful companies launched solely by one person, namely Amazon (founded by Jeff Bezos) and Ebay (founded by Pierre Omidyar). However, creating a company on your own guarantees that the process will be more stressful, more time-consuming, and more difficult overall. Paul Graham, venture capitalist and co-founder of Y Combinator, states having a single founder as the number one reason that the vast majority of startups die.

There is nothing more rewarding and exciting than sharing your accomplishments with someone who has been there from the very beginning, working hard alongside you. Co-founding allows each individual to use his or her own strengths and abilities to ensure the success of the business. For example, one co-founder may be more tech-savvy, while the other may be more artistic; combining their skills together can create an awesome startup idea and provide a foundation for the company.

Working with a business partner also gives you someone to celebrate with when your company becomes wildly successful. Overall, in order to thrive, a cohesive relationship between co-founders is essential. What are the key elements to a successful and healthy relationship between co-founders? Here are some things to consider for cultivating co-founding relationships:

Establish chemistry & define responsibilities
Chemistry is a key ingredient for any successful relationship. Establishing and working toward the same end-goal ensures future success for a startup. Since you will be spending so much time with your co-founder, you have to work well together, which means understanding and accepting each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Every partnership will have its share of unique skills, so you can allocate responsibilities by discussing each person’s strengths and identifying tasks that will highlight them.

Maintain consistent communication & open-mindedness
How can you know what your next move should be without communicating with your co-founder? Sharing thoughts, ideas, and issues clearly and frequently will help avoid obstacles and keep your business on the path to success. Be as transparent and honest with each other as possible, allowing for disagreements at times. After all, you both want what’s best for your company!

Some of the best sources of ingenuity are differing opinions, so disagreements are natural and debates are healthy – you two aren’t the same person. However, flexibility is also a necessary aspect of co-founding a business, as every startup will run into problems naturally. Each co-founder must find a balance with each other so they can both express individual opinions and combine their thoughts to establish a successful foundation for the startup.

Overall, any relationship, professional or otherwise, should be fun and memorable, but also require mutual respect. While some might disagree, no co-founding relationship is perfect, and the road to strengthening that partnership is filled with obstacles that will test your limits. Use common goals to remind you why you co-founded your business in the first place, and always make sure to think long-term when getting into healthy disagreements with your business partner. Keep in mind that your co-founder is your go-to lifeline in every troubleshooting instance you encounter as your business matures.

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