Launching a Startup is a bold and fulfilling experience that yields significant growth on both professional and personal level. Setting up a Startup is also a risky project, often synonymous with uncertainty and stress from constant highs and lows. 

One of the main reasons for which early stage Startups fail is the potential conflicts arising between co-founders. Therefore, a founding team can make or break the future of a Startup. Coherence, complementarity and strong connections between the founding members can be a real asset in the face of challenges.

Why is it important to have a co-founder?

Between building a product, launching marketing campaigns and convincing investors, the skillset for a founder is broad. And not everyone is set out to single-handedly manage these functions. Having a business partner can also provide you with support in the tougher times and keep you motivated. Co-founders can question each other’s ideas creating a healthy dynamic for decision-making. Based on our experience, there are a few important elements that make a strong co-founding team.

Matters founders should agree on.

Value system: One founder wants to accelerate indefinitely, work around the clock and considers a Sunday to be just another workweek. Performance is his highest value. For the other family is also important, he wants to see his children in the evenings and leaves the office on time. In the long run, these choices might cause disagreement.

Leadership culture: One expects blind loyalty from his employees and is critical of suggestions from the team. The other lives an open company culture based on trust and harmony. With such different ideas about leadership behavior, it becomes difficult to build a company together.

Exit strategy: One plans to exit within three years at the latest, the other wants to fulfill a socially relevant business purpose in the long term. This can make it difficult to agree on a common exit strategy. If this point is not clarified before founding the Startup or at the latest in the seed phase, there is a risk of conflicts later on.

Just as important as a similar attitude toward the company, are complementary personality traits in a founding team. Basically, you tend to get closer to people who are similar to you. You intuitively look for your mini-me because it’s familiar and comfortable. However, in the case of building a business, different personalities are helpful:

Social traits: introvert and extrovert. If you’re more of an extrovert yourself, outgoing and a strong communicator, look for an introverted co-founder who will manage IT and processes. You take care of stage and camera appearances, your cofounder organizes the operations. That doesn’t make him or her any less important, because these functions require different skills.

Decision-making behavior: A combination of analytical and intuition. You are rather critical, you tend to question contexts and therefore sometimes find it difficult to make decisions? Then look for a co-founder who is intuitive, who doesn’t brood for long, but decides quickly based on gut feeling. The combination of critical thinking and intuition will result in good decisions that you both feel comfortable with.

Structure: A combination of planning and flexibility. Your cofounder needs a precise plan before he gets started. He establishes a firm structure in his day, and then follows through with the project in a disciplined manner. You in the other hand are more open, you let things come to you and can also handle surprises well. You never know how the day will turn out. This is the best prerequisite for you to complement each other perfectly. One of you will make sure that the projects don’t get bogged down in the daily grind, while the other will find creative solutions when the world comes crashing down again.

If you as a founding team are shuffling through this list, it can be difficult to assess yourself or team members correctly. That’s why it makes sense to bring in neutral advisors to help you in the decision-making process. On the basis of a valid personality test, he or she can give you valuable and, above all, completely neutral advice about your personalities – as marriage counseling before the business wedding, so to speak. This reduces enormously the risk of divorce.

To assist you in making important decisions regarding your Startup such as choosing your business partner, HSEVEN offers you access to a network of more than 350 mentors. Veteran entrepreneurs and professionals transfer you valuable business knowledge they have accumulated through years of experience. Here you can learn more about HSEVEN Startup acceleration and incubation programs.