Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

While it can be extremely fun to start up with someone you’re close to, it’s not without disadvantages

I've built five companies in my startup career, four of which I started with close friends. It's quite common to build a company with a close friend: you get together, think of a cool idea, and decide to get started. Why not, right? While it can be extremely fun to start up with someone you're close to, it's not without disadvantages.

So before you and your friend get started, take the time to analyze the good, the bad, and the ugly side of starting a company with a friend.

THE GOOD

Story continues below advertisement

You have a friend in the trenches. Entrepreneurship can be lonely. My friends who work 9-5 during the day tend to party hard at night. I can't keep up with that lifestyle as a 24/7 entrepreneur. When we do hang out, I just want to talk about ways to improve my startup — whereas they want to talk about anything but work. That's why it's so fun to start up with a friend. You have someone you can confide in and relate to, at times when not everyone understands.

Your friendship sets the tone for culture. Good company culture keeps morale high, attracts top talent, and keeps employees loyal. My co-founder and I often conduct interviews together so that the prospect sees our dynamic interactions and feels how fun it is to work on our team. Because we're friends, we don't hesitate to throw a get-together at my place or a poker night at my co-founder's place.

You understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. It was easy for my friend and I to assign roles and responsibilities, because we knew each other so well. He was emotionally stable, organized, and focused on the big picture, so it made sense for him to be CEO. I was the hustler with the do-whatever-it-takes attitude, so it made sense for me to lead the CMO position.

THE BAD

You have similar networks. Friends usually hang out with the same people and will thus have the same network. This is bad because startups can succeed or fail based on who you know and what introductions you can get. My co-founder and I make a strong effort to go to events (he goes to investor-related events while I go to client-related events) in order to expand our networks.

It's difficult to take orders from a friend. People are accustomed to taking orders from their boss — not their friends. This can become very unpleasant, especially if you're not communicating tasks in the way that your co-founder likes to receive them. To keep my co-founder and I accountable, every week we get together with the whole team and report our accomplishments and issues. This eliminates the need to give orders throughout the week.

It's easy to take advantage of the friendship. Because my co-founder is my friend, he feels shy about pressuring me to work harder, which can become a vicious cycle: I slack because I feel comfortable around my friend and my friend doesn't pressure me to work harder because he doesn't want to mess up the friendship.

Story continues below advertisement

You don't want to hurt each other's feelings. There's no easy way to do it, but if your co-founder is slacking or missing milestones, then you have to call him out. A founding team that is brutally honest with each other and that can respect feedback has a much greater chance at success.

THE UGLY

The stress of failure is compounded by your friendship. Startups are full of stress, failures, and demoralizing moments. In a previous company, my co-founder failed to raise funding within the given timeframe. It was a very tense time because cash was extremely low and the company would fail if we didn't raise capital immediately. Similarly, I've had moments when I've gone through a dry spell closing deals. It's hard to console a friend when your business' future is at risk.

Failed businesses can lead to broken friendships, and vice-versa. I have seen several failed startups lead to broken friendships. Many times, the founders blame each other for the failure. In other cases, problems that start as personal can end up affecting — or even destroying — the business side. My failed startups with friends have actually led to stronger friendships; it's all about the level of respect you have for each other. But if you don't communicate this from the start, it can easily go the other way.

FIVE QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE STARTING UP WITH A FRIEND

Would I do this again? Absolutely — though I always proceed with caution. Here's what I look for in a friend before I ask him to join my team:

Story continues below advertisement

  1. Do we have complementary skills?
  2. Do we have different networks?
  3. Do I trust and respect his work ethic?
  4. Do I trust and respect his decision-making abilities?
  5. Does he have previous startup experience?

Don't start a company with a friend just because you think it'll be fun to work together. Start a company because you believe in what you're doing — and because you each bring a unique skill set and network to the table, improving your chance of success.

Jun Loayza is the Chief Marketing Officer of VoiceBunny and Voice123. He is also an accomplished lifestyle entrepreneur and the creator of the Drop Ship Domination System. In his entrepreneurial experience, Jun has sold 2 internet companies, raised over $1 Million in Angel funding, and lead social media technology campaigns for Sephora, Whole Foods Market, Levi's, LG, and Activision.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies