Building a business is hard but keeping it afloat is even harder. With your co-founders, plenty of highs and plenty of lows will be experienced. That’s why taking care of the relationship among co-founders is one of the most important elements for successful startups.
Here we present some tips to lead to a stronger relationship where each co-founder knows where they stand.
Tip #1: Let them lead
When building a startup often co-founders would want to do everything themselves. However, this will often lead to fatigue and burnout. The whole point of having a co-founder is to have a partner along with you on the journey of your new business venture. This means that you can’t do everything by yourself and it is also not good for you to do everything by yourself.
Letting your co-founder lead where they can is truly what is best for you and for the company. By doing this you will see growth in yourself, your co-founder and your company.
Tip #2: Takeover where their expertise is lacking
As co-founders, you should be able to identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You should have complementary skill sets and complementary personalities.
These should not be similar. Your co-founder should be able to do things that you can’t do and vice versa. They should be stronger than you in certain aspects and you should be stronger than them in certain aspects as well.
For helping with these considerations, at Linkilaw we have created Spliquity, our Startup Equity Calculator. Based on the experiences of 3000 startups, our unique algorithm weighs considerations such as skills, past experience, added value to the business, and commitment level of each founder to determine the fairest equity split based on the user’s input.
Tip #3: Be available
Try to never avoid or turn down a conversation with your co-founder if it is on an important issue no matter how high the severity.
Always be open to discuss issues. Let your co-founders know that you are reliable and that they can count on you. If you aren’t able to do this, or it’s not reciprocal most likely the partnership will fall through and so will your company.
Tip #4: Talk openly
This is similar to tip #3, however, it goes much further.
You and co-founder should be at the point where you can both talk honestly, respectfully and constructively with each other without taking it as a sign of insult or even negative criticism.
You shouldn’t be suspecting any underlying malicious intentions when they speak, but know that they are coming from a place that is concerned for the good of yourself and the company.
Sometimes difficult conversations need to be had and sometimes expectations are not always met, but what is important is that you have open conversations with your co-founders when these issues do arise and try to find solutions that will help you get over the bumps in the road as smoothly as possible.
Tip #5: Don’t Judge
Being judgemental can really sever any type of relationship, but especially a co-founder relationship.
Your co-founder may not always do things your way, but is this a bad thing? No.
Sometimes their way of doing things may actually be better for how the company is in the long run. As long as their way of doing something brings the results that you need then there should be no problem.
So don’t be quick to judge your co-founders when they are doing certain things that you would have done differently, of course, you can discuss it, but don’t criticise them as this will lead to tension in your relationship.
Tip #6: Trust them
You should be able to trust your co-founders.
This will make your life so much easier and you will be more effective when making important decisions. Knowing that you trust your co-founder in decisions would make the running of your company more smooth.
Tip #7: Forgive them
As we are all humans we are bound to make mistakes from time to time.
When this happens to either you or your co-founder it is important to forgive them and move on.
Not forgiving them will mean that you may bear a grudge. This would lead to tension within the relationship.
Tip# 8: Know who they are
It is important to have a good understanding of who your co-founder is and their lifestyle. For example, do they have any responsibilities outside of work that you should be aware off and do they work well under pressure?
Tip# 9: Compliment co-founders on what they do well
Positive feedback can often be an incentive to do more work. Motivating your team and your co-founders is absolutely essential in boosting the growth in your company.
Make sure that your team is willing and happy to the jobs that they are given no matter how tedious by fostering a good and supportive work environment.
There will be challenges along the way so sometimes your co-founders only reason for coming into work may be that they know that they will have fun that day (in a productive way).
Tip #10: Refrain from unconstructive comments
Receiving demoralising comments on your performance can be unmotivating.
Thus, if you want to advise your co-founders on where the can improve or what they can do better, always make sure that it is coming from an honest place and that you would genuinely want them to improve.
Make sure that you are always giving constructive criticism tailored specifically to your fellow co-founder. Give them information that they can use.
Tip# 11: Be friends but don’t let your friendship be based on how well the business is going
Most businesses between friends and family end because they think that their friendship is based on how well the business is doing and vice-versa.
Separating the two your friendship and your business is very difficult but it also absolutely crucial.
If this separation does not occur what often happens is that you are left without a friendship or a business.
In Linkilaw, we hope you find these tips useful for leading to a greater probability of a successful working relationship. If you need legal advice, book a call with our legal team and we’ll guide you through every stage of your legal needs.