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As an aspiring entrepreneur, it’s normal to feel conflicted about taking on a co-founder. Starting your entrepreneurial journey solo is a challenging task, and while some entrepreneurs, myself included, go at it alone, having a business partner can be incredibly beneficial. In the end, there’s no definitive answer as to whether one path is superior (I’ve seen success stories with both paths), but to shed light on this dilemma, I’m sharing some insights on why I chose to go solo with Briogeo. I’ll also share my advice for entrepreneurs contemplating bringing on a co-founder so you can make a more informed decision that aligns with you and your business.

Why I Chose Solopreneurship

When I set out to create Briogeo, childhood memories of concocting natural beauty products with my mom were at the core of the inspiration to start my brand. This intimate connection to Briogeo’s inception led me to pursue the journey solo. By doing as much as possible independently, I could retain the authenticity and purpose that fueled my entrepreneurial spirit. While I initially lacked specific expertise (in things like inventory management and retail planning) and faced uncertainty, the thrill of learning and discovering along the way was part of the adventure. Even though I went at it alone, I sought support through mentors, advisors, and the wonderful friendships I forged with other founders.

The Benefits of Solopreneurship

Briogeo is a part of my legacy and dedication to my family roots. It was an ambitious and high-risk move, but solopreneurship taught me to strengthen and trust my intuition. My early team was a massive support and grew exponentially with time, but I still relied heavily on myself during the early days — a skill I’m so grateful to have. Some other benefits to going it alone during the early stages of business building include: 

Autonomy and Decision-Making Freedom

As the sole decision-maker during my early years, I avoided some difficult conversations and conflicts, including decisions about retail partners, budget allocations, and branding & marketing choices. Consensus and collaboration become inevitable as your business grows and you build a team or take on investors. Still, as a solopreneur, you retain autonomy over your business’s direction. It empowers you to stay true to your vision and maintain a focused approach toward achieving your goals.

Speed and Flexibility

The flexibility to make quick, instinctual decisions allowed me to navigate the early stages of my business efficiently. For instance, I focused on one key retailer at a time, which helped build the brand’s equity and sustainable growth. The autonomy to make decisions without needing consensus from others can lead to a more agile approach in the early stages of your business. (And in the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, speed can make all the difference.) This flexibility allows you to adapt to market demands, experiment with new strategies, and stay ahead of the competition.

Financial Control and Profit Sharing

Running a business alone enables you to have control over its finances. You don’t have to deal with the potential complexities of profit-sharing arrangements, allowing you to reinvest in the business or enjoy personal financial rewards. This financial autonomy can be empowering, especially in the early stages of your venture when resources might be limited.

Brand Consistency and Personal Vision

As the sole driver of your business, you can maintain a consistent brand identity and vision. This can be advantageous when implementing a long-term vision. Every decision, from marketing strategies to customer interactions, reflects your personal values and mission. My dedication to sustainable, texture-inclusive formulas did not need to be negotiated. I could drive this message forward and create a distinct brand in a saturated industry without wavering because of opposing opinions.

Streamlined Operations and Low Overhead

Running a business alone means streamlined operations with less bureaucracy and overhead costs. You don’t need to worry about managing a co-founder’s salary, benefits, or office space expenses. This cost-effective approach allows you to allocate resources more efficiently, invest in growth areas, and stay agile in a competitive market. With Briogeo, I worked tirelessly at the beginning of my journey to make ends and dreams meet. Knowing I only had to worry about paying out and structuring operational schedules around myself made it easier to put in the work without the excess concern of considering a co-founder.

Advice for Co-Founder Seekers

Solopreneurship offers a range of benefits, including autonomy, speed, and financial control. However, if you’re considering a co-founder, having someone by your side can be equally beneficial when aligned. Before seeking out a co-founder, there are several things entrepreneurs should consider:

Compatibility is Key

My best advice for finding a co-founder is compatibility. Compatibility in business is much like any partnership. It is important to have chemistry in the form of likeability and similarities, but you should strive to find a co-founder with a complementary skill set. Consider your strengths and needs when entering a partnership. Once you assess, you can seek out an individual with a complementary set of skills. For instance, if you’re launching a service to organize celebrity events but are less outgoing or shy, finding an extroverted co-founder with great public speaking skills and a wide network may be more beneficial than selecting a similarly introverted partner. Some signs you’ve found a great co-founder:

Shared vision and goals

Complementary expertise

Open communication and constructive feedback

Shared work ethic and commitment

Financial alignment and risk tolerance

Trustworthiness and reliability

Accept that Conflict is Inevitable

Overlapping skills inevitably lead to conflicts. Brilliant minds with opposing approaches to life and business can collide. Communication is the crucial element that lets you resolve and grow from conflicts. Finding a compatible co-founder who understands your values means you’ll be able to establish clear rules and boundaries early on, creating a framework for peaceful collaboration during challenging moments.

Share Responsibility and Workload Distribution

Starting and growing a business is an enormous undertaking that can quickly become overwhelming for a single individual. As I built Briogeo, I had moments of deep burnout that could have been avoided or alleviated with a co-founder. Having a business partner means sharing responsibilities and distributing the workload. This can lead to increased efficiency, better time management, and the ability to focus on core competencies.

Letting someone take part in building a dream, especially when you have a personal stake in its success, is a highly vulnerable process. Be prepared to have another stakeholder’s opinion reshape your approach and welcome new perspectives that may be difficult to view objectively.

Clearly Define Roles: To avoid overlaps and ensure efficiency, establish distinct roles and responsibilities for each co-founder. Also, have a system to check in and hold each other accountable.

Play to Strengths: What are you good at, and what comes naturally to you and your co-founder? Based on these findings, allocate tasks based on individual strengths and expertise to maximize productivity.

Regularly Reassess: You and your co-founder are human above all else. Remain flexible and periodically review workload distribution to adapt to changing business needs and individual capacities.

Open Communication: Encourage open communication about workload challenges to prevent burnout and address concerns. Check in regularly through formal and informal avenues like weekly meetings.

Support and Collaboration

Foster a collaborative environment where co-founders support each other and offer assistance when needed. Separate roles don’t mean you’re not a team. Jump in and assist as needed to reach your shared goals.

Have Legal Agreements and Contingency Plans

To protect both co-founders and the business, it’s crucial to have clear legal agreements in place from the outset. While it may be challenging to consider potential conflicts or business dissolution initially, contingency plans can save a co-founder relationship from souring in unforeseen circumstances.

Your Path is Personal

Remember, deciding whether to take on a co-founder is personal, and there’s no right or wrong answer. I, myself, had to make this decision, torn between my deeply personal and unique ties to Briogeo’s inception and the potential benefits of shared responsibility. Both solo and co-founder situations have proven to be successful. 

Are you leaning toward having a co-founder or going solo in your entrepreneurial journey? Let us know why in the comments!