The partnership you have with your co-founder is arguably the most important relationship you’ll build as an entrepreneur, so it’s important to keep it healthy. Continued arguments or disagreements about how to run the business will only divide your relationship and your business, weakening both your chances of success and your chances of success.
To achieve a healthy relationship, members of Council for Young Entrepreneurs have a few tips in mind. Below, they each share one piece of advice they have for building a healthy relationship with co-founders and how these tips will help you maintain a healthy relationship in the long run.
1. Set clear boundaries for responsibilities
I’m in a special situation because my co-founder is my husband, which means our relationship has a different foundation than most co-founders. In our case, I started the company on my own before bringing it in, so I feel like I have to be careful when making decisions to make sure we’re both on board. I think in any relationship with a co-founder it’s important to set clear boundaries as to what each founder is responsible for and where their expertise lies. For us, as a couple, this was very easy because we know each other so well. You need to get to know your co-founder and be honest about what you enjoy doing in the company and what you feel comfortable with. Things will undoubtedly change over time, but it will help to know each person’s strengths. – Nathalie Lussier, AccessAlly
2. Don’t forget to be a friend
Spend time together outside of work. Most co-founders start out as friends and then build their working relationship together. However, when you focus on growing the business, you can neglect your friendship. Remember to be an active friend and listener to get a better idea of how their personal life and circumstances can affect their happiness and performance. That way you can help with advice, guidance or simply empathy. – Firas Kittanehu, Amerisleep mattress
3. Make time for inspiration
Set aside time to get inspired together. Inspiration can wear many hats. For some, it’s in meetings where growth, projections and numbers for the coming year are discussed. For others, it’s a business trip with the team to reconnect, or preparing and pitching to investors. Whether the relationship with your business partner started as a friendship or as a professional one, fostering the shared inspiration in your company is the cornerstone of your working relationship and is critical to maintaining momentum. By doing this, you will find that you are both working towards the same goals and laying the building blocks for a relationship that will stand the test of time. – Nick Vendittia, StitchGolf
4. Focus on better communication
The most important thing to building a healthy partnership with your co-founder is communication, which is at the heart of any good relationship. This is especially true for co-founders, who must be able to rely on each other at all times for open and honest feedback. Without communication, it is easier for problems to fester and grow, risking irreparable damage to the relationship. Communicate openly and honestly with each other about everything – from goals and expectations to fears and concerns. It’s also critical that you feel comfortable engaging in difficult conversations without being defensive or taking things personally. If you can focus on these aspects of communication, you are on the right track to a long-term and successful partnership. – Richard Fong, Insured standard
5. Plan how to resolve conflict
It’s hard to fire a co-founder. Having a visceral, existential attunement is critical. One of the most helpful questions I’ve asked or wanted to ask in the various co-founder relationships I’ve experienced is, “How do we resolve everyday disagreements to turn it into a positive creative tension, not a drop of acid on the tape? between us?” Founder conflicts are one of the main reasons startups fail. Quality relationships are critical to business success. The key is to notice and remove any emotion that can escalate a conflict. You need to acknowledge the emotions you feel while acknowledging the concerns and emotions acknowledging your co-founder Respect and recognition should be at the heart of your relationship from day one.- Ryan Stoner, Dendro
6. Take ego out of the equation
Eliminate the ego from your relationship with your co-founder. To remain solution-oriented, you must be brutally honest with your business partner or co-founder. If you communicate without ego, chances are you won’t take things personally and end up making better decisions for your business. Furthermore, your personal ego also forces you to be biased in many ways that are detrimental to the overall growth of your business, so communicate openly and often. It is important to be able to have difficult conversations about the business and to do so in a constructive manner. It also helps you to be respectful of each other’s time and space. Be sure to take breaks and have some free time together outside of work to refresh your creative edge. – Candice Georgiadis, digital day
7. Maintain transparency
Maintaining transparency ensures a healthy relationship with your business partner in the long run. The circumstances are not always the same. You can make millions today and be inches from bankruptcy tomorrow. Transparency is something that keeps you and your partner on the same page. It helps you build a strong relationship because you know that the other person is not hiding anything from you. So even if things go wrong, your bond would be strong enough to get through. When things are favorable, sharing the wealth becomes much easier. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
8. Make sure you share the same vision
Sharing the same vision would streamline many things and make it easier to face the daily struggle. Since you have the same destiny, you expect similar things from each other as you walk the path that leads there. Moreover, your definition of success and failure is more or less the same. This minimizes the chance of conflict in difficult times. And you’re both equally motivated by achievement when you weigh it on the same scale. This greatly strengthens your bond and helps you recognize a healthy relationship. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable shapes
9. Hold regular one-on-one meetings
You can build a strong relationship with your co-founder by holding biweekly (or weekly, depending on your situation) one-on-one meetings. Use this time to review the status of major projects, spot potential obstacles, and generally strive to improve workflow for everyone in the company. This tip is helpful for several reasons. In particular, these meetings will help you resolve potential problems. Addressing these issues early can help you work together to move forward in a healthy and productive way. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
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