The success of your company depends on your collaborative vision and ability to execute.
By the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
Whether you’ve gone into business with friends or are just getting to know your co-founders, maintaining a healthy relationship is key to your company’s success. But it’s not always easy. Even if you share a common vision, clashing personalities, opposite management styles and difference of opinion can cause conflict.
So we asked entrepreneurs: What’s your top tip for maintaining a healthy co-founder relationship?
1. Define Roles and Set Boundaries
Clearly defining roles and setting boundaries is essential. These ground rules are important to begin with, but even more so when your co-founder is your spouse. For my husband/co-founder and I, this means delineating responsibilities at the office, but also drawing a divide between our work and home lives so we can gain the perspective and balance we need to move our company forward. – Lindsay Tanne, LogicPrep
2. Remind Yourselves Why You Work Together Well
Too many companies founded by best friends have fallen on terrible fates. Starting a company with my friend, I was determined to never let that kind of thing happen. While we may both have very strong personalities and opinions, we are always reminded that we respected and trusted one another enough to take this leap together and we keep that respect and trust in everything we do. – Kelley Barry, Pixelette Studios, Inc.
3. Directly and Honestly Communicate
Having a co-founder is similar to getting married. It’s something to go into with great caution and shared vision about your future and what role(s) each partner plays. It’s only through direct and honest communication that a co-founder relationship can survive and in turn create a healthy environment for the growth of your business. If you can’t speak directly, don’t proceed. — Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids
4. Have Weekly Lunches
Five partners lead our organization and it’s tough to stay on the same page and communicate consistently to employees. Our weekly lunches allow us to chat about issues, even if they seem small. Without weekly meetings, we’d only get together for “big issues” and we wouldn’t make time for the small stuff and personal conversation, which is what keeps us moving in the same direction. – Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt
5. Look at Your Company Objectively
If either partner tends to take things personally, they can slowly implode a company from the inside out. You have to be able to make business decisions objectively. Have a system in place for disputes, such as phoning a third party to be the deciding vote. If you feel upset, take a minute to breathe and try to let go of any residual issues before they simmer up. – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
6. Respect Each Other’s Differences
We respect our differences, from personality to skill. We realize our company is stronger because of our different perspectives and leadership styles and that these differences will bring disagreements at times. As long as we respect each other’s viewpoints and listen, we can sort out business discussions and differing opinions in a healthy way. – Shalyn Dever, Chatter Buzz
7. Enjoy Separate Hobbies
Having separate hobbies fosters creativity and sparks new ideas. While we are similar in many ways, having different hobbies, whether it is an exercise class or sculpting lesson, allows us to explore new ways of thinking and creating. Bringing that knowledge and skill set back into the company has proven to be a great asset for our company! – Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.