A researcher at the Harvard Business School has studied the stability of companies founded among friends.


Is it a good idea to start your business with a friend?

Undertaking with others allows us to share ideas, learn about other proposals that, perhaps; to one alone would not have occurred to him, and combine professional experiences, as well as training gaps. The most logical thing is that the partners complement each other’s capabilities and resources. And we must not forget two more fundamental aspects: the financial support of the partner or partners, which will give greater consistency to the project; and share the responsibility of being part of a business society. But what happens when that partner is a friend?


The Harvard Business School researcher Noam Wasserman states in his book ‘The Dilemmas of the Founder’; that around 40% of startups include founding members as friends and found points in favor and against undertaking with friends. On the one hand, says this researcher, every time you incorporate a friend to your business your chances of failure increase by 28.6% (per friend). Wasserman says in his book that friends tend to minimize and obviate the obvious problems of the business to preserve a friendly relationship. But, on the other hand, it has found that the most stable entrepreneurial teams were made up of old co-workers, which defeats the previous percentage of failure possibilities.


Where is the key then?

Wasserman proposes to raise (and, we understand, answer with sincerity) these four questions to teams that will be made up of friends before starting to develop a beta version:


  • Do we share the same values? Your goal is exactly the same as yours. Share the ideal of the project, as well as the objectives you want to achieve and the degree of effort and sacrifice you are willing to mortgage for it.
  • Are our work habits compatible? It is about work capacity, it must be fair and even with your contribution of energy. Complicity and teamwork are key for some partners. If that fails, the rest is hard to build.
  • What are, respectively, our strengths and weaknesses? Your strengths are precisely your weakest points.
  • How will we handle conflicts when they arise (because they will arise)? Occasionally there can be dilemmas, even moral, within a company. It is especially complex to reconcile two totally different ways of seeing life.

The last question may be, says Wasserman; the most important one: when the business is going well there are usually no conflicts; but when the first inconveniences arise, disagreements usually arise between the partners. And even the business can go well, but disagreements arise. For example? When one of the partners decides to leave the project or at the time assign the charges or determine the functions of each. It is preferable to stop a little at the beginning and write a consensus document where the responses to the occurrence of conflict or unexpected situations are determined. The document can be raised before a notary public or restricted to the private sphere, but the validity is similar.