4 Ways to Create a Truly Equal Business Partnership

Owning a business 50/50 isn’t possible if you and your co-founder won’t listen to each other

equal business
(Image: iStock.com/dolgachov )

I would be lying if I said that your relationship with your co-founder will always be easy and amicable. It’s just like any other close relationship you have in your life: there are good moments, and there are times where you are going to disagree.

My co-founder Jade Driver and I own Crowd Surf at an even 50/50 split, so it’s important that we can make decisions that both of us are happy with, and that keep Crowd Surf operating and moving forward. We’ve had our hiccups over the past eight years, but have always figured out how to make it work by keeping these pointers in mind.

  1. Always listen. When working with your co-founder, it’s important to make sure that both of you are respectful and really listen to one and other. You don’t necessarily have to agree, but it’s important to truly empathize and understand why your co-founder feels that way. Once you all have both heard each other out, move forward with the best route for making a decision. There have been many times when I wanted to keep a project on our roster when Jade did not (and vice versa). However, after thoroughly listening to each other, we often realize that one of us has a better handle on how that client is helping or hurting our company. We then get on the same page and make a prompt decision to move forward with an option that we both feel comfortable with.
  2. Respect each other’s strengths, and know your own weaknesses. One of the reasons Jade and I have been able to work together for such a long period of time is that we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If we know that our disagreement falls more into one of our individual areas of expertise, we generally let that person handle the situation and resolve the problem. Jade is really amazing at handling our company’s HR and operations issues, for instance, so she takes point when it comes to making decisions about those topics. When it comes to decisions regarding business development and technology, I take the reins. We’re honest with each other and ourselves with regard to where we excel, and this helps us peacefully and efficiently resolve issues.

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Cassie Petrey is the co-founder of Crowd Surf, a company that provides specialized marketing services to some of the biggest names in music.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.