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The challenges of working with a business partner

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by Startacus Admin

challenges working with a business partner
The challenges of working with a business partner or another co-founder, as told by 12 of the UK’s top startup co-founders...

Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that running your own business isn’t easy. The highs are high, the lows are low. But what about when you’re running a business with someone else? Are the good times better shared, and the bad times halved? The team at so-sure, wanted to find out what kind of relationships exist behind the UK’s top startups so they asked them just what are the challenges of working with with someone else...

Kate Buckett |OneFifty Consultancy

Katie is a digital brand communications expert, with experience working both in and for global and UK organisations. Katie and her co-founder Alex Pearmain set up OneFifty together in 2015.

I think it is that you are both going through the same thing and you're spending so much time together it can get a bit fractious and you need some time out, but equally there is no one else that you can share the successes in quite the same way either. Sometimes it can be quite hard when when you are so close to someone, like Alex and I are, to digest their negative feedback so we constantly have to remind ourselves that’s the way our business with survive if we are constantly pushing each other- otherwise you won’t evolve as you should do. 

Pip Wilson | amicable

Pip Wilson is the co-founder of amicable. She is an entrepreneur and technology expert who is passionate about using technology to tackle social issues. She founded amicableamicable with business partner, Kate Daly.

You're always going to have things you disagree on, and that’s okay, because if you didnt you would probably have a less successful business as a result. There are days where we don’t come at things from the same angle, but that's more of a strength than a hindrance. The key thing for me is that you can't let things fester because life’s too short! When we disagree, the final decision will be with the person whose remit it falls in - we also have a great team who input, it’s not just the two of us anymore.  

Lilia Stoyanov | Transformify

A chief executive officer and angel investor at Transformify. Lilia is A fintech and digital transformation expert, she is also a professor at Zigurat Business School and expert evaluator Horizon 2020 at the European Commission. She founded Transformify in 2015 with her business partner and CTO, Desislav Kamenov.

We were colleagues at our old job and worked together for five years, I was a general manager and CFO and he was  in the IT department - we weren’t directly working with each other but we were in the same circle of friends. So we knew each other before we started the business. The business idea came to me when I was still employed and finding a business partner wasn’t easy. It took many meetings and conversations with a lot of people until I decided on Desislav. 

Tom Gatzen | Ideal Flatmate

Tom is the operations and marketing director of Ideal flatmate which he co-founder with business partner Rob Imonikhe in February 2017. idealflatmate

There are always challenges in managing any working relationship but I guess I am lucky to be working with a long-time friend so that any challenges or disagreements are quickly forgotten or moved on from. 

Rachel Hugh | the Vurger co

Rachel, alongside co-founder Neil Potts, founded The Vurger Co in 2016. The Vurger Co’s mission is to revolutionise fast food forever through the power of plants. 

There are definitely challenges as you spend a lot of time with that person, and in our case we also live together, so there is no ‘off’ switch. We live and breathe our business day in and day out without a break. So you have to love who you’re working with as well as what you’re working on for sure. 

Other challenges can definitely be the fact that you might often disagree on certain things, and in a two person founding team you always always have to compromise on the small things. That’s why we’ve found ourselves gravitating towards the roles that we have so that we almost become the ‘expert’ in that side and we communicate more for advice.

Alex Bodini | Spinbrands

spinbrandsAlex is co-founder of Spin Brands, a social and digital marketing agency specialising in SMEs & Startups. Having previously worked in large agencies, Alex met his co-founder in more entrepreneurial ventures and created Spin Brands to serve a huge gap in the market. 

If you are quite strong minded and there is more than one person who is able to dictate what that looks like, then you need to be able to listen and to be open to constructive criticism. I think a lot of the things that could be difficult - but isn't the case for our relationship - things like working with someone who isn’t as committed. We’re both incredibly driven. We have very little conflict, I can’t really think of having any particular challenges in our relationship worth noting.

Gauthier Van Malderen | Perlego

Gauthier is the co-founder of London-based Perlego which aims to tackle one of the biggest pain points for students with its e-book subscription service for textbooks. Gauthier and his co-founder Matthew Davis set up Perlego in 2016.

For an early stage company its a must to have a business partner because you have so many problems every day that you need someone to work with. I think sometimes the challenges arise because you work so closely together that our lives are quite intertwined. The main reason why startups fail is because the founders don’t get on anymore. So it is always really important to maintain a good relationship

Matthew de la Hey | Inploi

Matthew de la Hey is co-founder & CEO of inploi, a cutting-edge recruitment/HR-tech platform based in London. He set up inploi with Alex Hanson-Smith, and Chris Mackie in 2015.inploi

It would have been impossible to do this alone, you are taking on a pretty insane task with a lot of things stacked against you and a lot to learn along the way. Having to do that alone would have been very difficult. Often times if you’re having a bad day the other person is not and you can pick each other up. Having another set of perspectives; looking at solutions / problems from a different angle that you might not have thought about. Someone to share the burden and have fun with. 

Tessa Clarke | OLIO

Tessa and Saasha Celestial-One are the co-founders of OLIO, a free app which harnesses the power of mobile technology and the sharing economy to provide a revolutionary new solution to the problem of food waste.

To be honest I see only upsides of working with a Co-Founder! Together we’re able to cover a far broader range of skill sets and bring a more diverse set of experiences and perspectives to the table, which ultimately makes the business far stronger. Plus having someone who is on the same startup rollercoaster as yourself is absolutely invaluable in terms of mental and emotional support. And when it comes to strategy, product development and marketing initiatives for example, it’s incredible helpful having a sparring partner to bounce ideas off. Finally, it can sometimes feel a bit like a super-power having a business partner because you can ‘clone’ yourself and be in two places at the same time, which is incredibly handy and powerful!

Sara Trechman | Well & Truly

Well & TrulySara and her sister-in-law Maria founded Well & Truly in 2015. It offers a range of delicious but healthy tortilla chips, cheese sticks and gazpacho drinks are all-natural and gluten-free.

Having a co-founder is the best decision we made for Well&Truly as we constantly challenge each other and don’t feel alone. Being sisters in-law adds a layer of complexity but like any business partnership we need to work at it and make sure we are always communicating and sharing our ideas. It has made family events more boring for everyone else as we constantly talk about work!

Alice Holden | Attollo Lingerie

Alice is this director and co-founder of Attollo Lingerie which caters for D+ cupped figures. She runs the business with co-founder, Fleurette Mulcahy. 

It’s someone to share it with. When we first left university none of our friends could really relate to the fact that we were running off to meet the CEO of banks, or meet managing directors of massive multinational companies; running board meetings, pitching for investment, controlling shareholders. It was a very abnormal environment to be in from quite a young age with very little experience but we had each other to share that with. We know other business owners who have founded on their own and have said that they wish they had had a partner to share everything with. So I guess that’s a big benefit that we’ve enjoyed. 

Jasmine Eilfield | Expocart

Jasmine is the co-founder of ExpoCart which she set up with Ryan Farquson. The startup is on a one-way mission to reinvent the way people discover, hire and buy products Expocartfor their exhibitions. 

The pressures of running a business and each day being so different having new challenges to solve, it definitely keeps you on your toes in terms of problem solving and even from a people management perspective ensuring everyone is clear on the wider company goals and vision. The challenges with working with someone else is keeping calm under pressure and making sure there is an open dialogue so the other person knows what is going on in your side so they are not left in the dark and can contribute their ideas.

Original question: What challenges are there working with someone else? 



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Published on: 12th February 2019

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