Solo Founder or Co-Founder: Which Is Right for You?

Aug 16, 2016 by Lina Vashurina, Ecwid Team
Solo Founder or Co-Founder: Which Is Right for You?
Posted Aug 16, 2016 by Lina Vashurina, Ecwid Team

When starting a business, it can be difficult to know whether or not you should go it alone or seek out a co-founder to help you navigate the complexities of the process.

There are certainly pros and cons to both paths, and both solo founders and teams of co-founders will tell you that both options have their fair share of good days and bad days.

The answer is going to be different for each and every person– and it’s going to be a matter of personality, business goals, and work style that influence which option is ultimately best for you.

In this post, we’ll help answer the question: “Solo founder of co-founder: Which is right for you?”

Solo Founder Vs. Co-Founder: Pros and Cons

One of the easiest ways to make a decision is to start with a pros and cons list. So, that’s what we’re going to do. Let’s look at a list of the pros and cons for both co-founders and solo founders to help you figure out which might be the best option for you and your business.

Co-Founder

ProsCons
Distribute the pressure and financial responsibility between foundersGet stuck with a partner who’s not a good fit
More than one brain for problem-solvingPotentially ruin a friendship
Keep each other accountable and motivatedLess freedom to make decisions
Each person can leverage their different strengthsProfit splitting
Less individual risk assumedHandling conflicts in ideas or direction of the business
Leverage individual networks to help grow the businessImproper workload distribution

As you can see, co-founder teams have greater shared responsibility and more support, but they also surrender some of their individual ability to lead and make one-sided decisions.

They also require a constantly maintained balance between partners so that one founder doesn’t feel more overworked than the other. When this happens, a business can very quickly shift into a downward spiral to its ultimate failure and demise.

In fact, some sources indicate that as many as 62% of all startups fail because of co-founder conflict.

Solo Founder

ProsCons
Free to work independentlyGreater risk assumed
Higher return, as no profit split requiredFewer networks to pull from
Complete influence over company directionHigh stress, high accountability
Control of decision-making processesCan be isolating, lonely at times

Solo founders have more freedom to call the shots and lead the business, but they also assume a much higher level of risk, stress, and financial responsibility that can be mentally and emotionally taxing.

It’s important for solo founders to surround themselves with team members and fellow entrepreneurs so that they don’t become too closed off and lose their creative edge over time as they work alone.

Now that we know some of the pros and cons, let’s see what some actual business owners have to say about being a solo founder or bringing in a co-founder when starting a business.

Insights From Solo Founders and Co-Founder Teams

Choose Wisely

Make sure you choose a co-founder you can bear spending a lot of time with. And we mean a lot. If you can’t…you might be better off alone. Take it from twin brothers and Snorkl Co-Founders Jean and Thomas, who said:

If you can handle working on your own and the workload isn’t too overwhelming, then keep it that way. However, If you decide to get a co-founder, make sure they can handle the job but even more so that you guys get along since you will be working so closely together.

Discuss Your Vision/Plans for the Future

Communication is extremely important for Co-Founders who are going to stand the test of time. Husband and wife team Erin and Dean who run Tukabear Treats said:

Communication is huge. When we don’t agree on something, we take a moment to step away and cool off. We then come back and discuss it later when we are level-headed and calm. Because nothing productive ever gets resolved in the heat of the moment.

But it’s not just daily tasks you need to discuss with your co-founder. Be sure to talk about your vision and plans for the future early and often–so you can spot any red flags before it’s too late.

Assign Roles and Tasks

Each co-founder needs to have their own set of tasks and responsibilities so the workload is evenly dispersed. Otherwise, you’ll have conflicts when one partner is doing more work than the other.

Co-founders Jean and Thomas at Snorkl assign tasks and roles based on their strengths and expertise.

Thomas is the technology oriented guy, so he handles the technical aspects of the business such as optimizing our website, social media ads, as well as any other advertisements we may run. Jean is the business man, so he views more of the big picture of items and makes sure all aspects of the company flow smoothly.

Document and Formalize Your Agreement

If you’re bringing in a co-founder, take the time to document and formalize your working partnership so there are clear roles, boundaries, and responsibilities defined for each person.

Solo founder Hannah Walker said, “Two heads are better than one, for sure, so I’d advise getting a co-founder. It can be very isolating working alone. But, you each need to have clearly defined roles.”

You should also spell out your plans for future business development, division of assets should a partner want to exit the business, and any other formalities that could put the business at risk.

Solo Founder or Co-Founder? Different For Every Business

No matter which route you choose, remember the pros and cons–and don’t forget about the pitfalls of the path you decide is best for your business.

Be aware that you may still need to ask for support and guidance from a mentor as a solo founder, and know that one day, you may have to part ways with your co-founder.

As long as you plan ahead for future issues and document processes for how you’ll handle bumps in the road, growing pains, and business expansion–it won’t matter all that much whether you’re a team of one or many.

About The Author
Lina is a content creator at Ecwid. She writes to inspire and educate readers on all things commerce. She loves to travel and runs marathons.

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