Can’t wait to pitch your million-dollar idea to a friend? Make sure you’re both compatible and ready for entrepreneurship before going into business with a friend.
Going into a business with a friend is like alchemy. If the recipe is good and the ingredients play well with each other, the thing may just pan out. If not, you risk ruining your friendship and burning the business to the ground.
Businesses cofounded by friends have mixed success at best. Some manage to get through their garage-startup phase. Others aren’t half as lucky and end up breaking up.
In this article, you’ll learn how to make sure you and your friend really are compatible, and how you can keep friction to a minimum.
Is Your Friend Good Cofounder Material?
As friends, you probably understand each other without words. You have the same interests and preach similar life philosophies.
But a great friendship, even one that’s evolved through years of thick and thin, isn’t necessarily a guarantee of business success.
In his 2012 book The Founder’s Dilemma, professor Noam Wasserman observed a correlation in the composition of startup founding teams. It turns out, groups of friends and relatives are the least likely to stick together, with each social connection increasing the chance of a cofounder leaving the company by 30%.
So is going into a business with a friend such a good idea?
The short answer is: It depends on the friend. Here are some pointers that will help you decide if your buddy is solid cofounder material.
Did you go to the same college? Maybe you enrolled in a course or attended a workshop together? If so, chances are you’ve already had a chance to collaborate on small-scale projects.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
What projects did you work on? Were they successful? How did you like the partnership? Was your friend a hard worker or a slacker? What was the division of labor? Who was in charge?
If your past projects turned out average, the same problem may come back to haunt you.
You Bring Complementary Skills to the Table
In IT, the concept of “pair programming” means that two programmers share one workstation and work on code together. One (the driver) writes the actual code and the other (the navigator) checks it for errors.
When you go into business with a friend, your skill sets should complement each other’s in a similar way. You both share the responsibility for the wellbeing of the company, but each contributes different strengths and skills.
Let’s say you want to set up a content marketing agency. You both need writing skills and search engine optimization (SEO) knowledge to deliver a complete service. Two writers could technically pull it off, but a writer and an SEO expert would make a more powerful pairing.
You’re Both Equally Committed to the Project
Are you really passionate about your business idea? We bet you are. But is your partner equally pumped for it? Before you commit all your time and energy to the project, be absolutely sure that your friend is ready to do the same.
Commitment doesn’t necessarily mean putting in crazy hours and spending nights curled up under the desk in the office. One ofContinue reading