More than a few times over the last few months I have had discussions with entrepreneurs I mentor about problems with potential and existing co-founders.
A few observations.
It is widely held that businesses with co-founders have a higher chance of success compared to single founder businesses.
It stands to reason that 2-3 people with complimentary skills and temperaments can help each other through the challenges of launching and running a business.
Occasionally when one co-founder might be struggling the other can help them through the difficult times and generally the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Business partnerships are like marriage without the sex.
They are a very long term commitment.
They are not created overnight and you should expect them to last a very long time, however frequently they do fail and the consequences are almost as severe as a marriage breakup (actually I think both these events are more closely related than anyone realises).
Picking a co-founder is just like getting married.
Most people don’t pick someone they met on the weekend and get married next week.
There is a courtship period where you work out if you are compatible, share similar values and have the same goals and aspirations and are culturally compatible.
Building a startup is really hard, unless you have done it you have no idea, it might seem like a life of glamour but the reality is it can be a hardcore grind with constant stress and difficulty. Failure rates are high, disappointment is frequent and the pace is relentless.
You can’t enter this startup life with a business partner that you don’t know or trust.
If you don’t trust your new partner at the beginning of the relationship, its never going to get any better and your partnership and probably your venture has already failed you just don’t know it yet.
Ideally you want to spend 6-24 months getting to know them before getting into business with them.
Ideal places to work out if you are good as a team are either at Uni on group projects, working for someone else in the same team or running joint side or hobby projects in your spare time.
You should have some shared work experience together before you look at getting married to them and the courtship should last more than a few weeks.
In the same way that you wouldn’t marry someone if you felt you had different values, goals or expectations you shouldn’t go into business unless you feel completely aligned and trust them implicitly.
You are going to spend a lot of time with your new co-founder, much more time than your husband or wife so you need to take this decision really seriously.
If you only just met them at a Hackathon then you can’t expect to know them yet.
Take your time and be careful.
Co-founder failure is not spoken about much but the truth is its very high.
If you are already complaining about them or are unhappy with the situation no matter how good the business might look, run away now, fast.
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Photo credit Allan Ajifo https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Destination_wedding.jpg