Starting a business is exciting, terrifying, exhilarating and overwhelming. It’s a crazy journey and it’s one I decided to set off on with some friends.
The decision to have co-founders has been a massive benefit for us at That Works For Me. Why? For moral and emotional support, better decision making, investor support, division of responsibility and complimentary skills.
I can’t recommend having co-founders enough, but the big question is “who do you choose?” Starting a business with someone is a big step, and it’s incredibly important to make sure you work with the right people.
That Works For Me was cofounded by my best friend Jessica Heagren, her sister Gemma Blake, and me. Here are four questions we each had to ask ourselves when we considered starting a business together, and some questions you should ask yourself too.
1. Do they have different skillsets?
Jess, Gemma and I have very different skills, and this means we make a great team. We play to each other’s strengths and balance out each other’s weaker spots. Collectively, we have things covered. If we all had the exact same skillset, then there would be areas of the business that were weaker, but as we all excel in different things, it means our business is as strong as it can be–at every level.
Consider the skills you have and which skills you don’t. Can you find someone with skills that fill those gaps and compliment your own talents and capabilities? Be honest and open about where you thrive and where you have challenges, and your potential cofounders will be too.
2. Do they share the same values?
Whilst it’s important to have different skills, it’s vital to have the same values. You have to want the same things for the business, and agree on what the business values will be. There will be deal breakers for everyone, and it’s important to figure out what those are before committing to anything big.
What does everyone believe in at the core? This will form the foundations of your business’s values. In our case, it was that flexible working is an absolute necessity for everyone, and is vital for achieving equality and a thriving workplace. This is what powers us forwards, and because it’s at the core of our business, it’s our guiding light for everything we do – so it’s crucial to be aligned from day one.
3. Do you trust them?
This almost goes without saying, but don’t even think about starting a business with someone you don’t both respect and trust. A business partnership has to be built on these foundation. Starting a business is hard. There will be ups and downs, challenges and successes. You have to be able to rely on your cofounders.
I’m not suggesting you start a business with your best friend just because they’re your best friend. They have to tick all the boxes I’ve mentioned. Jess and I were aligned in so many other ways. Her being my very close friend was a bonus!
4. Can you get along, even when you disagree?
As I said, starting a business is hard. I can’t stress that enough. If you don’t feel comfortable and confident disagreeing with your cofounders, it’s not going to work. You have to like them and trust them and respect them enough that you can disagree without the relationship completely falling apart.
Disagreeing and discussing different perspectives, ideas and approaches is a massive part of what being a cofounder is. You make decisions together and if every disagreement turns into an argument, then you’re going to have major issues. Equally – if you all approach everything with the same point of view then you’re creating an echo chamber, not a robust environment for maki informed and stress-tested decisions for your business.
Those are my top tips – diversity, trust and respect. Get these things in place and you can take on the world.
Nicola Good is the Co-founder, COO of That Works For Me, an award-winning digital B2B staffing and recruting platform connecting brilliant businesses with experienced professionals, embracing flexible & remote working to end gender inequality.
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