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10 tips for a healthy co-founder relationship

Created on 22 August, 2022Business • 3 minutes read

Somewhere along the line, you might decide that you are more powerful as part of a team.

You can't make something out of anything by yourself. Somewhere along the line, you might decide that you are more powerful as part of a team. But if you're hit by a series of unavoidable, unpredictable events (your funding kicks in, you're growing like wildfire, and you need to scale up immediately), will your team structure stretch and bend enough to support this looming pressure?

So what are the keys to keeping these yin-yang dynamics healthy and balanced? I've put together a solid list of tips aimed at founding co-founders, but it can be applied to any workplace combination you want to refresh, polish, and improve.

Would you like to receive a co-founders contract template?

Download the contract, in Dutch (VOF) and/or English (LLC).

Stay focused on your own projects.

Since co-founding a business involves a multitude of responsibilities, it is easy to get distracted. There are millions of problems that you can solve at any time; you are constantly fighting to stay focused. When it comes down to it, there is always only one "main task". Funnel your energy and don't worry about what your partner is doing - they've got it.

Go ahead and disagree. 

You both need to know that it's okay to disagree. At our company, we make it known that anyone can voice their opinion, even if they are against a founder; it's a positive thing. The best sources of ingenuity come from different opinions.

Don't take things personally. 

If you disagree on an issue, take it for what it is: a case of opposing opinions. A big determinant of our culture is that we don't take things personally. Disagreements are normal and debate is good. We hash it out, make decisions and move on.

Stay solution-oriented. 

If you find yourself taking something personally, let them know what's bothering you and discuss an actionable solution. It seems simple enough, but reacting emotionally versus objectively can be an easy trap to fall into. Work together on concrete solutions and be done with them.

Value constant communication

Hit the basics regularly to keep your co-founder in the loop. Nothing you keep to yourself will help and every problem matters, so share it. Have that regular weekly meeting. Let the door spin. Making a plan that doesn't feel overly structured is an art form. We don't sit down and say, "Let's communicate." We build the space to continuously promote open communication.

Get personal and build trust

It used to be taboo to talk too much about your personal life at work, but we live in an age where work and private life are merging. Form a true friendship. Meet each other's families. Healthy co-founder relationships start with empathy and sharing about meaningful areas of your life forges a path to trust and respect.

Really work together

Often co-founders split up a list of responsibilities, spending little time in each other's worlds. We have different business units together, but we also actively overlap. This balance between hands-on and hands-off parallel management helps us build respect for each other's skills. By working together, we can work separately.

Know when to give way

Flexibility is a necessary quality, especially for colleagues like co-founders who weigh the same. If you've been debating a topic for a while and you're constantly getting opposition from your partner or several co-workers, be humble. Give a little if the company asks.

Make time for each other outside the office

A co-founder relationship is a relationship like any other, and spending focused time paves the way for a great partnership. Have dinner, carpool together, or attend a non-work event. Seeing your colleagues as valuable people in your life opens the door to the best kinds of work relationships you can have.

Let's laugh

In a fast-growing company or start-up, there is inevitably a lot of pressure, and the sheer size of the tasks needs to be supplemented with some light-heartedness. Smile, laugh, and joke about crazy things that happen. Believe it or not, that's what will make these years most memorable.

Would you like to receive a co-founders contract template?

Download the contract, in Dutch (VOF) and/or English (LLC).

Finally, remember that you are lucky you are not alone in this. There is nothing more rewarding than sharing early successes with someone who has worked as hard as you have. Plus, having a co-founder is just more fun.