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Friends and Founders: The pros and cons of building a startup with your friend

Most friends have, at some point, created a business idea together. Whether that business idea and startup ambition stays on the table with drinks or materializes into a growing company is another thing. 

Creating and running a company isn’t an easy thing to do and there is no doubt that having someone you can trust, someone who can support you through the process is indispensable. Especially when it comes to creating something you’re passionate about and building your dream company. Indeed some of the most recognizable brands out there were started by friends – Ben & Jerry’s and Airbnb are some stand-out examples. 

However, some say don’t mix business and friendship and it can’t be understated that balancing friendship with corporate hustle is a fine balance to achieve. When it comes to money, personal relationships can be strained and, sadly, sometimes completely break down. 

This is why it’s important that you pay attention to the pros and cons of starting a business with your best friend/s. Here are some things to consider: 

The Benefits


A successful business partnership needs to know how to communicate at length and depth on any issue efficiently. It might become an issue with a co-founder whom you have known for a short time. At the same time, a long time of knowing your friend can help to establish accessible communication. 

Ability to spend time together

At the beginning of establishing a business, it is essential to be ready to spend a lot of time with the team. Friends can spend time together not only for fun but for weekly meetings and other aspects of the business. Thus, it is an advantage to start a company together. 

Values and beliefs

It is essential to have similar core values and beliefs when you are working on the startup. Business partners always share the same vision and vision of the projects, and usually, friends are on the same page regarding values. Moreover, shared values will help achieve the business’s mission and overcome all problems that can come the way. For example, the passion towards travelling helped a group of 5 people to launch WeRoad.

You know each other 

Friends know what they are good or bad at and vice versa. This knowledge is an excellent help in allocating areas of responsibility in the project. For example, your friend may be an expert in the technical aspect of the product and be more introverted and oriented on working with the product. And you may be a manager with great people skills that will help you reach clients and work on the company’s outreach.

Things to consider:

There’s always the other side of the coin. Here is the list of cons of starting a business with a friend: 

Business is too casual 

It is important to draw a line between friendship and business. If it won’t happen both friendship and business will suffer. For example, you might avoid making hard decisions and just chat as friends. As a result, you can lack focus on running the business and it can even ruin the project.  

The line between friendship and business relations

It is important to take and give feedback and criticism while working on the same project. However, it can turn friends into “just” business partners in case of unclear communication. Moreover, it even can lead to a loss of friendship. Thus, it is important to set the right expectations, boundaries, and, to learn how to work with feedback. 

Limited network

In case of both business partners coming from the same social circle there is a high chance that they might be limited in terms of networks. A network is essential for the new startup as it gives access to investors, new markets and new clients. 

Overall, starting a business with a friend might be a good idea. However, there are four  essential questions to ask before starting the project: 

Do you share same values and mission?

It is alright to have different opinions in other areas of life; however, the mission drives the commitment to your project. Doing business is a long journey full of challenging and fun moments, and the mission is a touchpoint that can unite you in a challenging moment. 

Do you have complementary skillsets?

Any business has different areas in which founders should be promising. It is crucial to have a co-founder who can complement your skills. Be strategic about what the company requires.

Do you trust your potential co-founder?

Trust is a basis for the any kinds of project, particularly when it comes to profit-for-ideas. The question is will there be total transparency? What is your friend’s reputation with finance? 

Do you have same level of commitment? 

There are three key sources that will lead your venture to success: money, time and talent. It is essential to understand if your potential co-founder is ready to commit these sources. Moreover, you should set expectations about the type of partnership it is going to be, is it 50-50 partners or other way. 

Some European startups that were founded by friends that are pretty inspiring stories include: 

Anna Bulgakova
Anna Bulgakova
Anna brings international experience in marketing and nonprofit fundraising. She is passionate about social impact and partnerships between nonprofit and private sectors. Originally from Russia, she is based in Hungary.

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