It is no secret that building and running a business is not easy no matter how small or big it may be. There are a huge number of obstacles that one has to overcome, but while building this Shopify WhatsApp app with my co-founder Preetam, I realised that all the obstacles become significantly easier to overcome when you are not in it alone.
To be clear, I have tremendous respect for solo founders. These guys undertake a very lonely journey where nobody else can relate to their problems or achievements for that matter. When you have a bad day, you can't really explain it to someone because the feeling is unique to your situation and when you reach a milestone, you can probably celebrate it with your friends and loved ones but they would never truly understand how big a deal it is for you to have achieved that milestone. So I just want to give a shout out to all the solo founders out there and encourage them to keep crushing it in life.
Having said this, I would now like to highlight some advantages of starting a business with at least one other person.
It is safe to assume that a person who quits their job and lives off of their savings in order to take on the challenge of building a business is dedicated and driven but this does not make them immune from laziness. In fact if your business starts showing some amount of success, it is even more likely that you might slack off because you no longer have to worry about paying the bills or making rent because you have revenue coming in to take care of that. So that fire that kept you on your toes is gone.
Even if you don’t slack off for a single day of your life, you are still human and are capable of making mistakes. Mistakes that don’t have any redemption because only you get affected by the mistake.
Having a partner who is just as vested into the venture as you are changes this. You are now accountable to each other and have somebody to answer to when you slack off or make a mistake. This might sound very counterintuitive because the reason why people start businesses is to not have anyone to answer to. But I have found during my journey that this is not always a bad thing and it is actually essential sometimes.
When you start a business there are many skills that you may have to learn based on what domain your business is in. For instance when we started our Shopify application, we needed to know Product design, Front-end tech, back-end tech, marketing and distribution, landing page design and customer support. Now obviously if you are a solo founder you could argue that you could hire people for doing all of this but the truth of the matter is that even if you hire people to delegate a job, you still need to have some amount of understanding about that job so that you can hire the right people for the job and gauge whether your employee is performing well or not. In other words you have to learn many skills from scratch.
If one person were to learn all of these skills, it would take a lot more time and mental bandwidth than dividing those skills amongst two people who will then nail all the aspects of the business that they are responsible for. It is therefore very important to choose a business partner who has an affinity to the skills that complement your own. This is easier said than done but I would say it is worth spending time just to find a partner that compliments your skills instead of being of the mindset that it would be a waste of time to do so.
Oftentimes founders might find themselves in a situation where they face a problem that only they can solve and they aren’t sure how to do it yet. During such times it is very easy to go down a spiral of thoughts which might convince you that nobody is coming to help you and you are on your own so you are pretty much screwed. During such times it greatly helps if somebody that stands to lose the same thing that you do if you don’t solve the problem tells you that it is going to be okay.
This is what my dynamic is like with my co-founder. If he screws up or feels down due to some factor that we had no control over, I tell him that we will live through this and if I screw up, he tells me it is going to be okay. This simple aspect can actually help a lot with maintaining the morale and moving forward despite facing something that might seem like the end of the world at that point of time.
Happiness multiplies when you achieve a milestone
When you build a business the only way for the outside world to gauge whether you achieved a milestone or not is based on how much money you are making, but for the people involved in building the business, there are a ton of non monetary achievements that give you happiness.
For instance when we started out, our product was free for a while but we were gaining a lot of users every day and collecting feedback on what features they would be willing to pay for. This process was a magical time for us and we were the only ones who were capable of deriving happiness out of it. This happiness cannot really be shared with someone not involved in the business because they would not be able to relate to the feeling of talking to a customer from another country using google translate and understanding what their needs were and how we can solve them.
Someone once said to me that life is all about the people you meet and the things you build together. I genuinely believe this to be true and I would urge aspiring Entrepreneurs to make a full hearted attempt to find a business partner that aligns with your vision. I would also strongly suggest not to be hasty while finding a partner because working with a bad business partner is way worse than working alone and this is something that I experienced with my previous failed venture.