Co-Founder Dynamics: 7 Green Flags That Will Improve Your Business Partnership

by Meghan Kelly

Jul 3, 2024

Posted in Culture

Meghan Kelly and Garrett Jackson know that strong co-founder dynamics lead to even stronger business results.

I am a firm believer that co-founder dynamics can make or break any company. How could they not? Just as an aligned partnership between co-founders will influence the rest of the team and contribute to a more harmonious organization, a misaligned founder team will sow chaos, no matter how talented the team or how groundbreaking the service offering might be. 

Organizations need clear-eyed leadership from executives that create a culture where the team can do their best work.  

It’s been vital for Garrett and me to remember that we set the tone, and to act accordingly. The manner in which we interact with one another matters. We can disagree with each other — and we often do — but the way in which we disagree with each other, communicate through those debates, make decisions, and move on really, really matters. 

What I appreciate about the dynamic between Garrett and I as co-leaders is that we listen to each other, even when we disagree. There’s a deep mutual respect there. The best idea always wins. And then we move on. 

This approach has helped our relationship, our team, and our business flourish. Having been in other corporate environments and having been in conversations with so many different founders, I know this isn’t the case for everyone out there. 

I’m grateful for the business partnership we have, and after nearly 6 years of building together, here are some of my co-founder green flags that I think anyone starting a business should consider. 

✅Shared Vision

Before we launched Formada, Garrett and I had a lot of conversations about what success would look and feel like. We talked about what we were willing to do and what was non-negotiable for us.

What’s amazing about this to me is that the focus of our business has changed considerably since we first started. Despite that, Garrett and I have remained very much aligned regarding our vision for the business. 

Businesses evolve. The people within them need to evolve, too, especially at a leadership level. There have been times when one would need to nudge the other in the right direction, but seeing what’s possible has never been a struggle. We’ve always flowed toward what made the most sense for our business and clients. And that approach has proven itself invaluable.

✅ Proven History Of Partnership

Garrett and I were coworkers for nearly 7 years before we started a business together. We knew that we meshed well in a high stakes environment because we’d successfully navigated tough situations in the past.

We were very lucky to have had the opportunity to build teams and revenue-generating programs in another person’s business. Based on prior successes in that organization, Garrett and I were given a lot of leeway to experiment, the results of which gave us the confidence to envision a day where we could go out on our own. 

At a certain point, we realized that we had hit the ceiling in that corporate environment. In order to take the chances we wanted to, in order to really build something in the way that we thought it should operate, it was time to venture out on our own. Having those years of experience together proved that we could do it. So we did it. 

✅ Let It Out And Let It Go

We don’t always see eye-to-eye. That’s okay. In fact, I think it’s pretty healthy and productive for co-founders to think differently. 

He and I have very different skill sets that complement one another, and we often have very different perspectives that will challenge and ultimately enlighten one another. I think that’s great. 

Garrett and I can debate an issue and let the best idea win. And there’s no weird lingering drama. The respect we have for one another is very real. Our goal is to make Formada the best business it can be. 

Having one another to bounce ideas off of is a gift. If his take on a situation is a better one, then great! 

✅ Skills Overlap, But Not Too Much

Garrett has a vast technical skill set that I will never possess. I deeply respect his approach to process and operations, and his ability to find technology solutions for problems that our clients and team are facing. This is not the realm where I excel. I know who I am, and it’s not that.

What I am is naturally curious about people — their experiences, what drives them, and the challenges they face. I can meet them on an emotional level, and I have the ability to make social and sales connections that he might not have the same level of comfort with.

Where we do overlap are in the realms of how we want our clients to feel when they work with us, the level of respect and support we feel our team deserves, as well as how to make high-impact financial decisions for the business. 

We’re not afraid of taking risks, and I think this largely due to where our skills overlap and diverge. There’s a great deal of trust that comes from these places. 

✅ We Genuinely Enjoy Spending Time With Each Other

Let’s be real about something. Your social circle dramatically declines in the early stages of your business’s growth. It’s just a built-in part of the recipe. There’s no avoiding it. 

The reality is, that you’re going to spend lots of time with your co-founder, so it’s helpful if you’re also friends. And we are! Garrett is a fundamentally kind person. He’s funny. He’s insightful. 

If our baseline relationship was a struggle, I really can’t imagine how hard all of this would be.

Our spouses get along great, and the four of us have become very good friends over the years. It feels rewarding to spend time with people who understand what this experience is all about.

We’ve built a lot together over these past six years, including a friendship, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. 

✅ Similar Views On Money

Not being aligned when it comes to financials is the scourge of any relationship, professional or personal. 

Garrett and I shared similar views on money from the very beginning, but we’ve also positively influenced one another along the way. It’s also been a huge help for us to pull in specialists who have been able to provide guidance as we grow and scale.

When you’re an entirely from scratch, bootstrapped business founded by folks from relatively middle class backgrounds, there’s a lot of financial knowledge that you have to acquire at a very fast clip, or else, let’s face it, you’re doomed. 

You have to be informed and curious, pragmatic and brave, and fully committed to taking care of the team. 

✅ Emotional Intelligence

Garrett and I have gotten really good at reading the room in team meetings, client pitches, and other contexts where we might need to guide things in a certain direction. 

We’ve also gotten really good at reading each other, which is vital in certain situations where one needs to do a better job of listening, ask a question, or make an adjustment. 

Our ability to actively listen and be sensitive to certain situations also tells me that I have a partner that is paying attention, which is a priceless asset to have when running a business.

Sometimes, I imagine what it would be like if I didn’t have that extra layer of insight, and it makes me even more grateful that I do! 

We’re all operating on the information that we have at any given moment, and if Garrett is picking up on cue that I’m unable to because I’m leading a conversation, then it enables us to better serve our clients and our team. 

What are some of your green flags when it comes to your co-founder relationships? What are some things that you wish you would have known before starting a business?

We want to know all this and more, and if you’re interested in learning more about how Formada helps businesses achieve their goals, then contact us today. We’re here to help you create incredible results for your business. Contact us now!


Get in touch with the Formada Team