Getting a business off the ground is no easy task. You may have had your dynamite idea and constructed a watertight business plan, but now it’s time for the hard work to begin. Whether raising capital, building a team or getting clients through the door, there is a lot of responsibility now resting on your shoulders. At this point, you may start to wonder if you can do this alone.
After all, two brains are better than one. With a co-founder on board, you can share the workload and mitigate some risks. What’s more, your company will look more favorable to prospective investors since many venture capitalist firms state outright that they are unlikely to consider backing solo entrepreneurs.
On the other hand, this is your baby. It’s your million-dollar idea, so who’s better placed to execute it than you? Do you really want to bring someone in who might try and steer the business in the wrong direction? History shows us that 65% of startups fail because of co-founder conflict, so why run the risk of creating unnecessary tension and risk losing it all?
What We Did
Needless to say, deciding whether to go into business alone or to team up is a minefield to navigate. The OnDeck team drew from the advice and inspiration of established business leaders to weigh up the pros and cons, map the ups and downs and calculate the risks and rewards each pathway has to offer. We have presented them in the infographic below so you can figure out if you should go into business with a co-founder.
The Co-founder Conundrum: How to Decide Which Model is Best for Your Business
Deciding whether or not you go into business with a co-founder is no easy feat. In fact, it may just be the hardest business decision you face, as it requires personal reflection on where you excel and where you fall short as an entrepreneur.
There’s a wealth of advice online about whether you should team up or go solo. But digesting it all can be overwhelming, to say the least. Use our one-stop infographic to check the facts, hear the pros and cons, and decide for yourself what’s best for you and your business.
Lone Wolf Leader vs. Tycoon Teams
As this decision can prove to be the make-or-break difference for many startups, remember to take your time, draw from your own experience and consider the facts, figures and invaluable advice from other successful business leaders.
For the lone wolves amongst us, don’t be dissuaded by stats that predict failure. If 80% of billion-dollar companies were started by co-founder teams, make sure you’re part of the remaining 20%. Create a watertight business plan and believe in it; investors will rally to those who are personally invested in their strategy. Remember, you don’t have to do everything yourself. By hiring a solid team, you can strengthen your skillset without relinquishing control.
If you’ve decided to bring in a co-founder, remember to look in the mirror and identify where you need help. Start the process by writing a job description of the ideal person who can plug those gaps. Resist choosing your best friend or partner out of sentimentality but branch out in order to find the best candidates. Don’t forget to cross the t’s and dot the i’s early in your relationship to avoid any nasty surprises further down the road.
Methodology & Sources
On a mission to help business owners and solopreneurs discover if they would benefit from having a co-founder, we delved into the wide-ranging advantages and disadvantages of going it alone or teaming up might bring.
By gathering our information from seasoned entrepreneurs, business owners and academics that have shared their lived experiences and findings, we could ensure that we only included information from reputable sources based in the U.S. wherever possible and published no later than 2019 to keep our advice as relevant as possible.
With a wealth of quotes, advice and statistics in hand, we created a series of infographics and flowcharts where business owners can draw valuable insights and discover which pathway would be most beneficial to their business.
The research was gathered in June 20222.
Tamaseb, A. (2018). Land of the “Super Founders“— A Data-Driven Approach to Uncover the Secrets of Billion Dollar Startups. medium.com
CB Insights. (2021). The Top 12 Reasons Startups Fail. cbinsights.com
Gompers, P. (2006). Skill vs. Luck in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital: Evidence from Serial Entrepreneurs. papers.ssrn.com
Ghosh, S. (2021). Should You Add a Co-Founder. startupguide.hbs.edu
Heddleston, R. (2022). Start Up Solo, or Bring on a Co-Founder? 4 Facts to Consider. techcrunch.com
Brocoders. (2017). Do You Really Need a Co-Founder? medium.com
Rose, A. (2021). Why having a co-founder is better for business. justentrepreneurs.co.uk
Nasir, I. (2021). Six top tips for a successful cofounder relationship. sifted.eu
Survival to Thrival. (2020). 3 Common Challenges Faced By Ceos When Choosing A Co-founder. survivaltothrival.com
Tan, G. (2017). Co-Founder Conflict. techcrunch.com
Cohn, A. (2022). How Cofounders Can Prevent Their Relationship from Derailing. hbr.org
Wasserman, N. & Hellman, T. (2016). The Very First Mistake Most Startup Founders Make. hbr.org
Perel, E. (2021). How to Fix the Co-Founder Fights You’re Sick of Having — Lessons from Couples Therapist Esther Perel. firstround.com
Shanti, S. (2021). To Have Or Not To Have Cofounders. entrepreneur.com
Mishika. (2022). Do you need a co-founder for your startup? 10 pros and cons of having a co-founder. inventiva.co.in
Sutton, T. (2022). How to find the perfect co-founder. seedready.org
Doyle, M. (2022). 5 Reasons Your Startup Idea Needs A Technical Co-Founder. theworldwecreate.net
Escalon. (2017). Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a Co-Founder for Your Startup. escalon.services
Stillman, J. (2020). All Co-Founder Fights Are Really About 1 of These 3 Issues, According to a Top Couples Therapist. inc.com
Baudner, L. (2021). What Are The Benefits Of Having A Co-Founder? blog.pitchdrive.com
Wasserman, N. (2008). The Founder’s Dilemma. hbr.org
Schools, D. (2017). Founders Who Are Serious About Their Startup Invest This Much Money at the Beginning. inc.com
Oakes, J. How to make your business attractive to investors. startupdonut.co.uk
Liew, R. (2018). The Pros and Cons of Having Co-founders. nzentrepreneur.co.nz
Curtiss, L. (2021). The pros and cons of setting up with a co-founder. thesuccessfulfounder.com
Hodak, B. (2014). 4 Advantages to Starting Up With a Co-Founder. businesscollective.com
Clarkson, N. (2015). Richard Branson: How to find a mentor. virgin.com
Kiisel, T. (2022). The Pros and Cons of Taking On a Business Partner. ondeck.com
Sumrak, J. (2021). Find a Business Partner Who’ll Help (Not Hurt) Your Business. foundr.com
Layton-Turner, M. (2022). How and When Should You Take on a Business Partner?. legalzoom.com
Thurston, P. (2022). When Partners Fall Out. hbr.org