Founding a startup with friends

Founding a startup with your friend can test the strongest friendship. There are pages of startup history filled with partnerships torn on the road to success.

If you're planning on starting a new venture with your friend, there are several things you should consider.

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Can Friends Be Successful Co-Founders?

hbr.org

Consider what makes someone a friend. It is often because you share values, interests, or relatable life experiences that draw you together. The perceived closeness creates a deep sense of commitment or responsibility.

These can help founding teams in the early stage of a startup. But the risk is when one friend develops an extreme dependency on the other. For example, one friend will continually voice their expectations to be consulted on every occasion or will repeatedly look to their business partner for validation.

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A founding startup team should possess a unique combination of skills that you can bank on. But it is seldom that anyone can master all the skills required, so pairing up with friends can broaden the company's skill set.

It is equally important to know your friend's limitations and accept them.

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You and your friends may start at the same point and have similar dreams and ideas, but you may also find that venturing together brings other challenges that may impact relationships.

Startup challenges, such as pivoting or funding, often cause hard conversations and the need to prioritise professionalism over friendship. Your ability to support each other and find solutions without blaming is vital.

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The dynamics of friendship will change over time and can be very tricky in a working setup.

Psychologist Adam Grand's model shows that people are seen either as givers, takers or matchers. The giver wants to give (but don't get enough in return), and the taker takes from what they've handed. This can cause friction over time. However, those who can accept that the relationship has shifted and will not return have transitioned to becoming great co-founders.

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