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What are the pros and cons of having a startup co-founder?

Posted by Neha De

September 27, 2021    |     5-minute read (993 words)

There are several factors that go into making a startup successful, including market need, a viable business model, financing and marketing, among other variables. But finding the right team — particularly the right cofounder(s) — is a crucial step. According to research, discord with a cofounder is among the top reasons that contribute to a startup’s failure. Yet, launching with the right co-founder can help accelerate a business’ growth. 

As with most things, there are two sides to having a cofounder. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of having a co-founder for a startup.

Check out the pros

Here are five reasons why having a cofounder is beneficial for your business: 

#1: Genuine support – Even the most dynamic business owner with a revolutionary idea cannot avoid problems and failures. In this situation, a co-founder is likely the only person who can truly understand your concerns — they are the ones who have put in not only their money into the company, but also their time and effort. 

#2: Complementary skill sets – One of the biggest advantages of having a co-founder is that you both bring specific skill sets to the table. Having a co-founder by your side means you have double the skills to make use of. It also means everything does not have to rest solely on your shoulders. With a co-founder, you can concentrate on the projects you enjoy and are passionate about.

#3: Easier fundraising – The majority of venture capitalists tend to prefer to invest their money in the idea that has a solid and trusted team behind it. They believe if you cannot find another person to get inspired by your idea, then how can you expect the customers to do so. 

#4: Effective leadership – Startups with more than one founder can offer a more diverse leadership perspective. For instance, if one founder is a woman and the other is a man — or they belong to different age groups — both individuals come with their own background and experiences. Two perspectives on leadership are always better than one and can help you manage your employees in a more well-rounded way. You can bounce ideas off each other and make sure you have covered all your bases. 

#5: Easier to take time off – With more than one person in charge of a business, breaks are easier to come by. Let’s say you have been putting in 60-hour work weeks all month trying to get a marketing campaign off the ground, and now you need a break. If you have a co-founder, you can take a real break knowing that someone (reliable and equally invested in the success of your company) is running the show. Having a good partnership means you each get some downtime when you need it.

Now, look at the cons

Having a co-founder is fantastic, but for every plus, there is a minus. Let’s take a look at two possible problems that you may face while working with a co-founder.

#1: Different views on the work process – Having different thoughts on certain aspects is fine; it can even be good. However, when the co-founders are on completely different wavelengths and simply unable to find a middle ground, that might be a problem. 

#2: Work inequities – Conflict arises when one co-founder feels like they work harder than the other. In order to avoid this situation, talk through some scenarios before you formalize your partnership. 

Another way to minimize conflict between co-founders is to clearly define the roles and responsibilities at the outset to avoid any overlap by signing a co-founders’ agreement.  

Before you bring a co-founder on board

If you have decided to bring on board a co-founder for your company, apart from ensuring that you and your co-founder have the same level of drive and motivation for your business, here are a few tips that can help you find the right partner:  


  • Define your core values: When selecting a co-founder, start by laying down a solid set of core values. These will shape the goals, priorities and decisions you’re willing to make.
  • Determine the tradeoffs you are willing to make: Tradeoffs are things you are willing to give up to achieve your goals. For instance, are you willing to give up security or privacy for the sake of transparency? Or are you prepared to work late and sacrifice your personal plans to meet tight deadlines? Being upfront about these choices will let your potential partner(s) know what your priorities are and what you’re willing to forgo.
  • Determine what you want in your ideal co-founder: Look closely at your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your business, and list the skills and experiences that would best complement yours. You could also seek input from seasoned peers and investors. 
  • Explore different avenues to find co-founder(s): Just as you would use your networks to find investors for your business, you can check out many of the same avenues, including entrepreneur forums, industry conferences and local business organizations, to look for a co-founder. You can also join entrepreneur groups on such networks as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and interact with individuals who meet your criteria.
  • Jointly define the roles, key metrics and milestones for your business: This process is a great test of the various working styles of all co-founders as well as a true shared vision. Building a business is tough and unpredictable, so now is the time to commit as a team. If you can’t easily agree on things now and work together, it probably won’t happen in the future. 
  • Discuss how you will handle tough situations: Every business goes through difficult times, including cash flow shortfalls, fundraising difficulties, clients terminating contracts or employees leaving, and these are likely to put a strain on your relationship. If you and your co-founder have a strategy for dealing with challenging times, you’ll be able to weather the storm.

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