To have a co-founder or not to have a co-founder? That’s not even a question for me
Updated: May 7
I must admit, the perfect effing storm of circumstances hit to make WorkWell a reality for Lucy and I. We’d spent the previous year working alongside each other, learning and growing as individuals and as a small team within a larger team. We recognized our similarities (of which there are many) and our differences (of which there are many).
In August, we got laid off from the jobs we loved within the same hour. Our first move after this news was to get together, sit in a bit of a shock (we laughed A LOT, like wtf just happened?!), and then in classic Whitney fashion, I steered us immediately to WHAT’S NEXT?! What can feel better than this? Let’s get into action right now!!
We both shared dreams of not working for anyone at some point in our lives. I’d journaled in June about starting my own thing once my current job ended. The universe handed that opportunity to me way earlier than planned, but I’m historically not much of a planner (that’s changed with starting a company!!), and when do you plan for a massive risk / life change like launching your own business? Maybe some people do, if that’s you, hit me up, I need those people in my life! We’re also both highly passionate about humans and their development, we have no dependents, we have no restrictive ties to location, we have relatively minimal financial burdens. We’re also both big dreamers, open to risk (I think I sit at the far end of risk agile and drag Lucy toward me most times, sorry / you’re welcome, boo!), and honestly, we were not really down with being told what to do by other people anymore (really ever, if I’m being honest). It felt like the right time to create and execute our own vision.
So the timeline: August 27th 11AM we are unexpectedly jobless. August 27th 4PM we’ve decided to skip the job search and start a company. I think a lot of trust has to be present for this to work. It took a few weeks to say: I’M STARTING A COMPANY! It actually was more like I'm starting a company?!!! I can finally say I HAVE STARTED A COMPANY (because it happened!) without massive self doubt, four months later!! It felt absolutely fucking crazy to turn down the flood of referral offers we both received. It was very tempting to apply to jobs, just in case. But we made a plan to meet every day at different coffee shops and work spaces. And we showed up. Even when we had no clue where to begin. Even when we felt like we hit dead ends and doubted ourselves. Even when our day was mostly about being in our feelings. And damn, all of that was so valuable. Especially creating space for the other to be in their feelings.
Over the past few months, we’ve made countless decisions together. And it’s the little stuff that having a co decision maker is so good for. The shit that can keep you stuck, swirling in option overload. What color should this heading be? Should our business number area code be from this city or that? Meet at this spot or that one? What is our highest priority today in a list of one million mission critical priorities? With two people, someone usually has an opinion / preference and it makes moving forward a much faster process. Not to mention you have double the hands / mental capacity / communities (more on this one soon!). Plus, having someone to show up for means you also show up for yourself. And obviously the confidence in leading our coaching calls, talking with partner companies, and pitching our company to new folks skyrockets with a business partner who can support you, offer loving feedback, and with whom you can move forward in creating your vision. We are a team in every sense of the word.
My favorite mentor of all time used to say to me: if you’re not good, we’re not good. And Lucy and I live by this. We take care of each other even when we feel the heat to build our business. But we recognize that todo list will be infinite and ever present. Aka, it can wait. Many of our calls over the past few weeks we’ve been apart have been connecting as human beings first and coaching each other on life things. We genuinely enjoy being a part of each other’s lives and knowing that the other is well. We also know if we step over issues, especially if they’re personal, they’ll come back tenfold in time. We started our company by mirroring each other’s strengths and opportunities. That was humbling AF for me but understanding how one sees the other and knowing feedback is welcome in both directions and will be delivered with an intention of growth has been a guiding light for our partnership. And damn it’s been so good even when it’s been hard.
All of this is to say, and I said a lot: get yourself a damn co-founder. And not just ANY co-founder. That doesn’t work out either. They don’t have to be a best friend, but find someone you can tolerate spending hours upon hours with. Ideally, find someone who you can’t wait to spend hours upon hours with. Having complementary skill sets is awesome. Having someone who can keep you accountable is essential. But more than anything, find someone who can and wants to create a vision with you, whose values are similar or complementary, who’s down for the journey, and who is willing to grow with you. If you can communicate respectfully and compassionately and LAUGH, you will figure out the rest and, dare I say, have fun in the process.