There's no way to sugar coat it: starting a business is really hard. In a young business, you have to wear many hats. Nothing happens without you making it happen. And, you're competing against established players with a lot more resources than you have. What you do have is passion, energy, and agility. At Harvard Business School, Noam Wasserman has done extensive research on what co-founding teams statistically fare the best; he found that often the best co-founder is a former work colleague. Maybe so, but I think there's is a case to be made for why you should start a business with your best friend, and here are my reasons why:
1. When you're in the trenches, you'll need to trust your partner
Running a business, you're constantly switching between operational details and high-level strategy. There's so much going on that you have to trust others to handle things you just can't watch yourself. In the beginning, when your team is small, it's critical that you can trust your partner. And I don't just mean trust in the sense of believing they won't lie to you. I mean trust in the sense that if they say they can get something done, you can trust them to do it well and on time, and that task can move completely off your to-do list. When you've known someone for 10 years, like I've known my partner John, and you really know their strengths, you can put your complete faith in them.
2. Starting a business is a roller coaster, you'll need emotional support
I never really understood how emotionally invested you become in your startup until we started lovepop. I mean, I had heard people describe how starting a business is a roller coaster, with strong highs and lows, but I didn't really get it. Not until I spent 18 waking hours a day pouring my entire lifeblood and energy into my business did I understand. Every success was like a shot of pure adrenaline, and every setback was like a punch in the gut that incapacitated me for days. It's in those moments where working with your best friend can keep you sane. Whenever you're having a really rough day, your partner has to be there to lift you up and get the train back on track.
3. You're at work all day, you might as well hang with people you like
A couple of days ago as I was sitting at my desk listening to the laughter around me in the office as my deskmate cracked a joke mid-morning, I realized how much I love being at work. And it's not just because I love what we do (although creating paper sculptures is amazing, as far as work goes), but because I love our team. There are a lot of times when you're starting a business that it's just you and your partner, which I would imagine gets old real quick if you don't have a great personal rapport. And besides, how are you going to get all your strategy planning done if you're not hanging out with your business partner on every weekend and vacation?
4. When the going gets tough, you're still in it together
Starting a business is probably the most rapid-fire education you can sign up for. I think I've learned more in the last 18 months than in the rest of my life combined. That has given me and John an incredible opportunity to learn together and grow into our roles. Sure, there are tense moments and a fair amount of disagreements, but it helps that we're not competitive. A success means we both win, no matter whose idea it was.
5. If you don't, you'll probably never see your best friend again
The most indisputable fact on this list. When you invest yourself completely into starting a business, it doesn't leave much time for anything else. You're not meeting up for drinks after work, there is no "after work." It's extremely hard to maintain friendships outside the company when you're spending every waking hour making sure that your new baby survives, thrives, and grows. If you have a best friend, and they're not involved in the business, chances are, you're just not going to see very much of them.
It's not often that you get the opportunity to work together with your best friend, but if you get the chance, it's worth the risk. Actually, it may just be less risky than the alternative.