Till Death Do Us Part…Or Not, Co-Founder?

By Tomilola Aiyepola

You can choose anybody to be your co-founder for a start-up. However, the real challenge lies in choosing the right person. A business partnership can be likened to a marriage with issues and disagreements once the relationship has been formalized. Saying that there will be ups and downs or times of drought, illness and doubt is an understatement. No matter what happens, one partner cannot just go running off, which is why all those vows are taken. The point is that these things would also happen in business; there are times when problems would occur, and situations would go out of hand. You want to make sure you have the right co-founder standing by you through all of this. For this reason, you have to consider these factors when choosing a co-founder.


Yes, it feels nice to be praised all the time for your ideas, but do you really want someone who agrees with everything that you say? You don’t need someone that is always on board with everything but someone that thinks differently. Your co-founder should be able to spot loopholes in ideas that you pitch and also come up with ways to cover those loopholes. You need a co-founder that can make up for areas that you are flawed, not someone that is exactly like you. If you are often impatient, someone with a listening ear will make a great team member. An analytic co-founder needs a creative partner. In essence, what is required for a successful partnership are at least two (2) people who complement each other in order to ensure effective distribution of responsibilities and harmony. Remember, you don’t need your best friend but someone that would get the work done.


Next, you need to choose a co-founder that you can trust and that can trust you too. You need to trust each other in a lot of ways. You need to trust that you are both working hard towards your goals for the business and on funding. You need to trust each other’s decision-making process and above all, you both need to trust that you have each other’s best interests at heart. During the course of the business, there may be reasons to doubt each other or circumstances may threaten the trust shared between the both of you. Always give a benefit of doubt and opportunities for the other party to redeem this. Only repeated patterns over a period of time should be a basis for distrust.


This is very important. Whoever you are choosing as your co-founder must share the same goals that you do for the business. You should be heading in the same direction as two or more persons cannot be heading to different places but decide to journey together. You must share the same vision for the business, so you can drive each other through that vision. Apart from the overall vision, work principles such as ethics, work-life balance, and so on; are important elements that promote team bonding and a great work culture. These goals and values help to reduce friction and misunderstanding in the business.


It is important for you to know the person you want to work with, not just general information but business-wise. How does the person work? Some people are really good and nice people but when it comes to work they are annoyingly incompetent. To avoid this, it would be better to consider someone you have worked with before or someone you already know about their style and culture. This way you can decide if it is someone you would like to start a business with or not.

Don’t forget that a business is like marriage. There would be ups and downs, sicknesses and good health periods of your business. It is important to choose a co-founder that you would not mind doing it all with, again and again.

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