How To Work Together With a Co-Founder Successfully

It becomes easy if you have the right co-founder. 

For founders to work together successfully you must gel well. To test it, go on a trip with your potential co-founder and see if you can stand each other. If you don’t have a working relationship or friendship with your new co-founder, consider working on small projects with them first.

Also, go for someone with the qualities one should look for in a co-founder, as per Paul Graham, with energy and integrity.

Here is what you can do to work well with your co-founder.

Trust each other. Even when mistakes happen, assume that intention was right. Startups are tough so everyone who is involved is under pressure. If the blame game starts, things can blow. Never talk behind each other’s back. Share what you are going through, it works great to build trust.

Shared vision. Agree on a common goal and work towards it. If you are young and don’t have many responsibilities, move in together. Work with someone who is as committed as you towards a shared vision.

Use documentation, to ensure that you and your co-founder are invested in the success of the venture. One way to ensure this is to create a co-founder agreement where each co-founder’s stake vests over three or four years, with a one-year cliff.

Accountability. Make sure each founder has clear responsibilities. But when things get tough, support each other.

Know each other. Use tools like Enneagrams to find your strengths and personalities. Knowing each other’s lives outside of work. To do it, spend time together outside of work.

Growth over credit. Don’t worry about who gets the credit.

Challenge decisions, and actions and not the person. Let everyone share their ideas and then take or drop those ideas based on merit.

Communicate. Spend time talking about what each of you does. Stuff like ops, hiring. Decide who will take care of making sure there is money in the bank, and getting investments. When arguments happen, clear the air as soon as you can. Like in a relationship, don’t sleep without talking. If something is bothering you, address it without delay. Don’t talk business when having fun together. Be honest about your needs and goals. Explain why you did something, especially if it didn’t work the way you assumed.

Discuss but not argue. This is easier said than done and takes time.

Money. Start paying yourself market-level salaries as soon as you can. This can keep the financial pressure down and give you strength and headspace for tackling other challenges.

Hope you’ll use these ideas to work well with your co-founder and build a successful startup.

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