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Having a co-founder is similar to being married or being in an intimate relationship, in order for them to not only survive but to succeed some important things are required. Much of the same behaviours and rules of thumb that apply to contented relationships also apply to successful co-founders.

To date, I have founded four businesses, two with co-founders and two on my own. Having co-founders can be tough but can equally be the best thing that could happen to your business especially if you are in the position of scaling up. My moments of having co-founders were filled with late night calls, early morning breakfast meetings, constant brainstorming, bickering and in some instances sitting at the bottom of the pit with my co-founder whispering “it’s going to be okay”. It takes a lot to run a business so having the right co-founder by your side can make the worst times fun and bearable.

The relationship with your co-founder can determine the success or failure of your business. In order to help you avoid the latter,  I have listed some important qualities that need to be present in your co-founder relationship as if it were marriage.


Relationships demand trust in order for them to grow and for each individual to be comfortable. In business, you have to trust that your co-founder has your back, trust the decisions he/she makes and trust that they are capable of carrying out certain tasks. Trust can only be earned and not bought, remember once broken it is more or less impossible to mend. Having this in mind, make sure you are transparent with business dealings and both parties are aware of every action being taken in the business. It is not good enough to assume your partner will be fine with your decisions just because it is in favour of the business.


In one of my past businesses, my former co-founder found it very difficult to communicate, this brought a toll on the relationship. When issues would occur she would not communicate them as she felt it was “nothing serious” to worry about. The issues would always come up, later on, causing her to be upset. Without communication, relationships suffer and eventually break down.  It’s important you not only communicate things going on within the business but also voice feelings and remember you are working with a human and not a robot so empathy is needed.

GIVE 60%

“The 60 percent rule” suggests that you always commit to giving an average of 60 percent. This rule gives a great balance, as it suggests you don’t give too much that you are doing all the work but you give a little more to show dedication. This helps build trust as both parties are always willing to go over and beyond.


Successful marriages and relationships are built with time and through the fire. With time they become stronger, as they go through several tough situations and successfully come out with a  stronger foundation. Likewise, a business partnership requires long-term commitment and perseverance. Running off and leaving the business should never be your first option when problems arise.


The key to letting things go is to communicate the issue the moment it arises (after cooling down) let the other person know how you felt and how they can improve. This is an opportunity for you both to learn how to deal with one another and to build mutual respect.

Have you read the post about what to consider before having a co-founder? It’s a must-read.

Do you have a successful co-founder relationship? share your tips and experiences below.



Elizabeth is a Brands and Communications specialist with a passion to support females in reaching their full potential.

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