Running a business with someone else may sound a lot easier than running a business alone -- except when it's not.
More than a few founders compare their co-founder relationships to a marriage. It's no surprise why: much like a marriage, running a company is wrought with difficult decisions, life-altering outcomes and moments of both pain and joy. Even on good days, disagreements are inevitable.
The bottom line is that is that you're bound to have some hurdles to overcome together. So what are the keys to keeping the relationship healthy and balanced?
Seven founders share their favorite methods for keeping the relationship happy and more importantly, productive.
1. Read a good marriage book.
A co-founder relationship is a lot like a marriage. You are merging two lives, personal and business, financials, aspirations, team (family) growth and loss. Plan to share all the ups and downs together. Pick up a good marriage counseling book and learn the general techniques to better understand your partner, help them understand you better, and learn how to work through rocky times together. - Jordan Gurrieri, Blue Label Labs
2. Meet one-on-one and recognize what the other has accomplished every week.
When things get tough, you and your co-founder will feel incredibly stressed and overworked. Chances are, you'll both also feel like the other person isn't doing as much as you are to fix the situation. I've made a habit of recognizing and appreciating the work my co-founder is doing at the end of each of our weekly one-on-one meetings. She then does the same. It's strengthened our relationship a lot! - Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli
3. Know where you each stand.
Knowing where you each stand before you get knee deep into the business is probably the best bet. Draft something (ideally with a lawyer) that is fair to both of you, similar to what a prenup is for a marriage. Lay out what happens in the case of a breakup, what each person is responsible for, how business decisions are to be made, changes and updates. - Jessica Baker, Aligned Signs
4. Keep a "brag file" on your co-founder.
I keep a "brag file" on my co-founder. I jot down notes when he does something amazing, or file away emails where he's praised. Then, when I feel less than appreciative, I turn to the "brag file" as a reminder of all the good he brings to the company, and I can go into any conversation from a place of deep respect. - Rachel Hofstetter, guesterly
5. Keep the communication open.
Open communication can be helpful to an organization, but during those rocky times it can be critical. Don't keep each other in the dark or assume that the other knows what they are doing to get over the rocky patch. Every company goes through ups and downs, and startups can have more dramatic peaks and valleys. Work together with your co-founder(s) and keep communication open during those valleys. - John Arroyo, Arroyo Labs, Inc.
6. Remember the big picture.
Invariably, business challenges are going to occur, which have the potential to cause emotions to run high among co-founders. For this reason, I think it's essential to remember the big picture and the fact that you and your co-founders came together because you shared the same business goals. This will ultimately help you pull together as a team, regardless of the challenge you encounter. - Damian A. Clarke, DAC & Associates
7. Help each other.
One of the best things is to help each other when things are rocky. Pick up some of their responsibilities and vice versa. If it is getting very rocky, then take time to meet and discuss all issues often as you adjust your course. If you can't fix some of the issues, it might be beneficial to have a third party help you navigate. - Marty McDonald, Bad Rhino Inc