“Just like in a romantic relationship,” says Patrick Dodge, Founder of Creative Side Marketing, “it’s easy to say in the beginning [of any business partnership]: “Yeah, we’ll be cool no matter what. If things aren’t working out, we just have to agree that it’s not worth sacrificing our relationship over. And then one day, you go to work and find new locks on the door.”
Some say that going into business with a friend, relative, or lover is the quickest way to turn them into an enemy.
And they’re right.
You think your relationship is solid, but things change when pride and money are on the line.
All it can take is one heated disagreement to get out of hand, and next thing you know contracts are being violated, relationships are ruined, and your once friend is instructing their lawyer to go for your jugular.
As Strikingly co-founder David Chen explained, “Whether your co-founder is a friend, your cousin, or you’re in a romantic relationship, know that things will never be the same again, once you go into business with them.”
Don’t believe us?
Just check out what this person went through in this forum comment.
But don’t despair.
This madness can be avoided.
We’re going to go into one surefire method in vetting your potential new co-founder before you get in too deep, and contracts are signed.
We know you’re excited about this new venture with your buddy, but before you jump in – Dafeng Guo, one of the cofounders of Strikingly suggests, “[working] on a [micro] project together to figure out your working [styles] and see how [this other person] works under pressure.”
As Guo explains, “There are good opportunities, like a hackathon project or a 1-week [micro] project idea. If the hackathon project falls apart and you’re not doing business together, it’s better to walk away, rather than you working on it for 6 months and realizing your visions are diverging.”
Good idea. But what’s a micro project?
“A micro-project,” states Dave Wakeman of Project Manager, “is a short-term effort that is meant to tackle a specific idea, activity, or challenge that is limited in scope. This means that not only can these micro-projects be stand alone in nature, but they’re effective building blocks for larger projects as well.”
The simple format for implementing a micro project:
- Choose a small task or goal, lasting no more than 7 days, that needs to be researched or created for the business (e.g., We’re about to jump into this market. We need to do customer research and find out which marketing channels past companies, similar to ours, have used to get the most traction)
- Break the responsibilities down between the two of you (e.g., You interview at least 3 people, in-person, and look online for other insights – for the customer research. I’ll create 3 case studies of marketing strategies from our competitors)
- Agree on a due date and the final products you committed to delivering, on said date
While working on this project there are some key traits on whether this person will make a good partner for a longer term project or not.
Some of the signs that you and this individual may not be good partners:
- Lack of communication – perhaps because you’re a morning person and they’re a night person⦁ They crumble under pressure (e.g., don’t know how to prioritize for a deadline)
- They have little or no patience and snap easily
- They lack accountability and don’t follow through on a project
- They’re not committed (i.e., they don’t take it as seriously as you do)
Ignore these red flags at your own risk.
If they didn’t follow through on this micro project, “(e.g., no response to getting feedback or no real interest in the project after a few days), nothing really changes”, states Guo, “and you go about your life.”
Sure it’s a little disappointing.
But so was Wonder Woman, but we still like Gal Gadot.
Whether it’s a hackathon, a small weekend pop-up shop, or even if you and someone split up research – the main point is you want to see how they work, how they handle deadlines and stress, and if they are REALLY committed to the project and overall idea.
If you’re thinking, you can discover these challenges and grow from them – or as one commenter on Warrior Forum stated, “[realize] that the circumstances [are] an opportunity to reveal true colours and learn about yourself.”
That’s just masochistic.
Under those terms:
You’ll be blocked by your once childhood friend on all social media channels, texts, and phone calls.
Your significant other will have left you, took the dog, the ice cube trays, and the toilet seat. Or your family members (that’s plural because family members WILL take sides) will cut you off completely.
You’ll learn about yourself?…
Is it worth it?
We raise our glasses to all of you co-founders of today and tomorrow.
We hope to never find your “co-founder horror story” in the Warrior Forum or a subreddit.
Have you had a hellish experience building a business with a friend? In retrospect, what would you have done differently? Let us know in the comments below!
About the Author
Gigi Rodgers is a Digital Marketing Manager for Strikingly. She writes about entrepreneurship and about every aspect of building an effective landing page. When she’s not contributing on Inbound.org, she’s reliving one of the greatest decisions she’s ever made: Ordering the Bacon Flight. Connect with her to find out more about landing pages (and bacon flights) on Twitter.