This post is part of the Bootstrapped Startup 50 series. The goal for the BS50 series is to cover everything that matters when bootstrapping a new startup. The posts are sequential, so it wouldn’t hurt to read from the beginning if you’re just joining in.
In the last installment of the BS50 we talked about why having a cofounder could be a good idea. This time we’re going to take the alternate side and point out a few things that could be detrimental to your startup.
Startups and small companies truly are like families. Everyone has to spend a great deal of time around each other and everyone has to rely on each other for success. There are no inconsequential team members when a team has only 2 or even 5 employees. Everyone has to work well together or the quality of product shipped will suffer. Personal conflicts between team members can upset the delicate balance in small teams.
This risk is heightened significantly when you’re considering a cofounder. A cofounder is going to bear a significant portion of the decision making responsibility, so trust and understanding are absolute requirements. To be successful you’re going to have to implicitly trust your cofounder, letting them handle their area of expertise without your input. If you don’t get along with your cofounder then the startup will necessarily feel that discord.
A cofounder, depending on your specific stock and financial agreements, will necessitate a large portion of income generated. This is somewhat less important if the company gets off the ground quickly and starts earning enough revenue to cover expenses. But what happens if the fledgling company struggles along for a year or so and there isn’t enough revenue coming in to pay either cofounder enough to keep them around?
The long-term goals of your cofounder should matter when making decisions. Are they in the company for the long-term or are they just going to dabble in your startup for 2 years? A committed, long-term cofounder is significantly more valuable to your company than someone who’s just looking to help you out for a while or wanting to get out of their current job.
What are your thoughts on bringing in cofounders? Have you had any experiences with a cofounder before? Please share in the comments.
Next up we’ll talk about the potential pitfalls of adding cofounders.