It is often thought that thriving organizations are built on the back of one leader, one figurehead, one passionate and decisive individual willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Yet, we know this is not necessarily always the case. We know Apple was the brainchild of not one, but two inspiring men. We know Microsoft was conceptualized and built by two decision-makers. Even Twitter had more than one co-founder.
So, is having one leader actually better than two? Or, are two heads better than one? The fact of the matter is there are pros and cons to both. For the purposes of this post, here are a few benefits of having someone stand by your side as you navigate the murky waters of entrepreneurship:
Even if you are an incredibly mentally disciplined man or woman, you are still subject to your own lapses in mental fortitude. Reservations rear their ugly head when you stay up late into the night crunching numbers and completing mind-numbing paperwork. When delirium sets in, your dedication may falter.
A business partner helps dissuade you from any temptation to quit. When it’s two instead of one who have taken the plunge to build up a business, you have someone depending on you to keep on keepin’ on. It’s not just something you can bail on and cut your losses because that means cutting someone else’s losses as well. When someone is so directly dependent on your performance, it compels you to do better. It raises the ante (socially, not monetarily).
Someone has your back.
While co-founding a company raises the ante because there is someone depending on you, it also reduces your workload. Of course, you will still certainly be subject to long hours and sleepless nights; but with a co-founder, you have some semblance of a work-life balance.
Your partner can cover for you if you can’t make a crucial client meeting. Your co-founder will notice your mistakes and either fix them or let you know about them so you can fix them. Not to mention, expansion. If you are both seeking out new clients and customers, you will cover far more ground with two people instead of just one.
Seriously though, two heads are better than one.
…as long as it’s not family. Considering the prevalent failure rate of startups today, it only makes sense that your cofounder should not be a family member or a close friend. With so much pressure, so much stress, and so much on the line, it hurts when things don’t work out. Sacrificing a loving relationship for business is not necessary if you don’t want it to be. Exercise foresight.
That said, two heads really are better than one, and better than more than two for that matter. It helps brainstorm sessions. It cultivates innovation and inspires creative solutions to complex problems. With another mind to bounce ideas off of, you gain access to a perspective you may otherwise have never encountered.
However, like I said, two minds are also better than more two minds. With three or more, decision-making becomes hectic, cumbersome, and flat-out difficult. Imagine asking a single client to pick out one of hundreds of web designs. Then imagine having that single client agree with two other co-founders on the design. Any difference in opinion has the potential to halt the process entirely, and while difficult at three, it only becomes exponentially more difficult with every added co-founder.
Two is the perfect balance to achieve both deft decision-making and continued creativity.
Having someone on your side is enormously helpful. It makes the seemingly overwhelming challenge of entrepreneurship manageable.