A big old question and one that usually has a natural and obvious answer to it (phew but keep on reading). We’re talking UK specific here but did you know that only 8% of entrepreneurs go it alone with their start-up Company, so that means a whopping 92% are all co-founded*.
If you’re going purely on the stats, you are in a minority if you’re mad enough to start something up alone. There are some caveats to this mind. Imagine you’re wanted to build a small lifestyle orientated business, co-founding could become counterproductive to your aims.
You’re ready to create the next unicorn
Sounds like you’re ready to go into business with my eldest, she’s all about the unicorn creation! Joking aside, if you have a big idea with big potential, it’s likely going to be very helpful having the additional support and person-power found with other co-founders (as supported in the stat above about the number of startups that are co-founded). This is going to be down to a myriad of reasons but they’re likely to include:
- Complimenting skills
- An increased network of contacts
- More person-power to get stuff done
- Emotional support (don’t underestimate this need)
- Someone to share the ride with
- They have a sh*t tonne of money
- Someone to bounce ideas off
You’re pretty certain you’re a Dictator
If you’re stubborn, assume you’re right all the time and struggle with listening, having a business partner may be asking too much of the other person! If you have such a singular vision and purpose for your Company, it’s likely a co-founder will provide conflict and feelings of resentment. Not a recipe for a successful Company. If this is you, stick to being a lone wolf.
What you’re all about the lifestyle?
How’s the surf down on that tropical beach you’re perched on … A lifestyle orientated business is by default a rather selfish choice. You are choosing to prioritise your personal needs needs and circumstances, making the Company fit around them. Not really situation that easily facilitates a co-founder or two.
You need to be very certain that any co-founder you have when starting a lifestyle orientated business is on the exact same page as you.
When a mentor can do the job
If you’re starting a Company, on your lonesome or with others, it’s a worthwhile idea looking into mentorship schemes local to you. Finding a mentor who is a good fit is often an effective way of getting some expert outside input at a low cost and no ongoing commitment.
If you do go it alone, I think as a matter of course you should be having a mentor or two you can lean on from time to time. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to get out and grab a coffee, something founders of Companies quickly become experts in.
You want to take home a decent wage
As soon as you have co-founders, you’ll almost certainly be splitting Company shares in one way or another. This does rather obviously mean you’ll be have to share around the wealth and profits the Company makes. From my experience, if you’re simply wanting to create a small, sustainable business, the fewer founders there are, the better off you’ll be. But if your aim is create something huge and sell on for big bucks, you’re more likely to get to that destination with co-founders.
Talking of the industry I’m in, all too often you come across small agencies of 5-15 staff and the founders take less money than they would if their agency was 5 staff and below. Make of that what you will. It seems to be once you get to 20 staff and more and you can effectively make your role redundant and open up your personal earning potential. That might be from freeing up time to work on other ventures, to growing an agency that is sellable.
What about me, what have I done?
The Companies I’ve founded have always been with a fellow co-founder. For me, the added support and expertise you get from working with other people can really enhance the experience and success. It is worth baring in mind that you’ll at the very least have to bring in double the money due to there being more than just your salary to consider. This additional responsibility I’ve found generally always works out, as long as your relationship is strong.