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What makes a good co-founding team? How can you quantify the success of a business relationship? How do you transform a partnership that’s veering off course?
In a 15-year qualitative study and a quantitative study into the attitudes and motivations of entrepreneurs, Fingerprint for Success has uncovered distinct patterns in the interests and preferences of both those who achieve venture success and those who struggle.
This world-first research assessed 48 motivations of some of the world’s top entrepreneurs and analysed them for correlations with venture success—and, equally important, attitudinal blind spots found to be statistically significant in entrepreneurs who experienced venture failure.
These findings give entrepreneurs a huge advantage when choosing their co-founders and business partners. The study also looked at business partnerships up to 20 years old over a range of businesses, including those that had been sold in multi-million dollar business exits and those that had failed.
There are many reasons why business partnerships fail, including:
A business partnership can present a variety of difficulties, however, our research found that multi-million dollar business exits were more likely to arise from a partnership than a sole founder.
So what are the critical ingredients of a successful business partnership—one that allows each partner to shine and the business to flourish?
From 18 years of case studies from working with hundreds of different entrepreneurs, these are our highlights:
If this is what a healthy partnership looks like, how do you cultivate and foster one?
First, sit down with your prospective co-founder and find out what your vision and intentions for the business are. Ask questions like:
Next, consider how you want to achieve that vision:
Alignment is not a box to tick at the beginning of a partnership, but something you do regularly and at each major decision point.
There are three elements to emotional intelligence:
Self awareness, communication and tolerance are the lubricant that allow you and your co-founder to have different working styles and to harness and embrace the power of that difference.
Acknowledging achievement is essential to a functioning partnership. Set regular goals and celebrate achieving them—effective goal setting is also found in co-founders who have longevity and fulfilment in their partnerships
Our research found that a very high focus on goals, achievement and recognition is correlated with venture success.
Going into a partnership, make sure none of these warning signs are showing:
One of the most critical decisions you will make in business will be your choice in co-founder: a dysfunctional partnership is one of the most stressful experiences possible in business, with long-term consequences to both wealth and health.
On the other hand, a functioning partnership increases early stage traction, momentum and ability to scale, and makes the journey tremendously rewarding and adventure shared. Making the right choice is a crucial decision that you shouldn’t only leave to your gut feeling.
Want to know where you and your co-founder clash and complement each other?
Take your Fingerprint for Success assessment and find out about your motivations today.