Trait Combinations within your Cofounder – The Best and Worst

The Cofounder’s Hub brings to the spotlight different aspects of what makes a cofounder partnership great, and one of the most important features to consider is personality. There are a myriad of tools and resources to study one’s personality, but The Cofounder’s Hub has elected the Personality Assessment as its primary tool to analyze the different aspects of personality in cofounder relationships.

In this article, we will be investigating the different personality make-ups within one person that could be helpful or detrimental to a business partnership. That is not to say that you should or should not partner with someone if they exhibit these traits; the purpose of this analysis is to prepare yourself, build healthy habits, and create processes to arm yourself for a better cofounder partnership.

As a reminder, these are the 27 personality traits that the Personality Assessment measures our character on:

Adaptability – how readily an individual can adjust to changes in their environment.
Charisma – how adept an individual is to managing social situations.
Humour – ability and ease of spreading mirth.
Attention-seeking – ease of taking center stage in a social setting.
Sensation-seeking – desire to engage in risky or dangerous activity.
Sociability – willingness to engage and talk with others.
Conformity – compliance of standards.
Introspection – examination of oneself and one’s thoughts.
Art Appreciation – interest in works of art and artistic qualities.
Creativity – ability to come up with new and original ideas.
Intellect – ability to grasp new concepts
Conservatism – tendency to support conservative political parties, or religiosity.
Compassion – concern for the wellbeing of others.
Trust – ability to take others at their word.
Honesty – how willing an individual is to lie, cheat or take advantage of others for personal gain.
Authoritarianism – attitude towards rules and laws.
Easy-Goingness – one’s preferred pace of lifestyle.
Perfectionism – high expectations and desire for perfection.
Order – tendencies towards organization, predictability, and cleanliness.
Impulsivity – tendency to act on a whim.
Industry – diligence and perseverance.
Emotional Expressiveness – the degree in which a person is comfortable sharing their feelings, emotions and perspectives with others.
Well-Being – tendency to feel good about oneself and one’s life.
Self Control – one’s control over one’s short-term desires
Emotional Stability – ability to navigate daily stressors and bounce back quickly.
Anxiety – feelings of uneasiness and fear.
Irritability – ease in which someone is rattled or bothered by their environment.

Potentially Beneficial Trait Combinations

High Sociability and High Charisma

Entrepreneurship and networking go hand-in-hand – we all know the importance of meeting, pitching your idea to, and being heard by the right people. It’s a tough area to navigate if you’re shy, introverted or stay away from social situations. So, for our first positive trait combo for cofounder partnership and entrepreneurship, we have a high Sociability score paired with a high Charisma score.

A partner who scored high in Sociability will find it easy to navigate social interactions and situations, and they’ll never shy away from a conference or networking event. Putting yourself and your business out there will be key for your startup success, especially in the beginning stages. Paired with a high Charisma score, your cofounder’s Sociability would be elevated; not only are they willing to network, but they’re good at it. They’re charming, approachable, and most importantly, could sell your idea!

In the long run, having a partner who scored high in Sociability and Charisma would be beneficial for the culture of your company. A sociable and charismatic founder makes for an approachable and personable leader that is able to navigate the intricacies of social situations with ease and charm. If you’ve scored similarly, or even if you’ve scored inversely, having a cofounder like that can prove to be an asset for the company.

High Introspection and High Emotional Expressiveness

A high score in Emotional Expressiveness on its own is not always a positive trait for a cofounder, especially if you’ve scored differently or are from a culture that promotes neutrality. However, when paired with a high score in Introspection, Emotional Expressiveness can lead to a healthy ability to communicate thoughts, feelings and struggles. These two traits when paired make for a person who is able to communicate their emotions and why they have such emotions. While this is not necessarily a must for entrepreneurship in itself, it is a great asset to have in a cofounder partnership. A lot of cofounders silently suffer through their conflicts and resentment, unable to broach the topic with their business partners. This is a leading cause for partnership dissolution and company failure. The only way to avoid resentment and negative buildup is through communication, and a partner who is able to communicate about their emotions, and is introspective enough to understand where they are coming from, will be able to mitigate that.

High Honesty and High Trust

Purely through the lens of a cofounder partnership, having a business partner with a high score in Honesty paired with a high score in Trust could be the foundation of a partnership based on mutual confidence and belief. A partnership that is built on rocky grounds will have a flimsy foundation that could topple at any second, but if you can depend on your partner, and most importantly, your partner feels like they can trust you, the sky’s the limit. Trust is lost in buckets and gained in drops, but a partner who scored high on Trust is more likely to start the relationship with a full bucket instead of an empty one. Their high score in Honesty will make them more trustworthy to you too, promoting mutual dependence and faith.

High Creativity and High Industry

In entrepreneurship, creativity on its own is not enough – it is the ability to see your ideas through that truly separates the entrepreneurs from the dreamers. That’s why the matchup of a high score in Creativity and a high score in Industry is essential. A cofounder who has both is able to come up with innovative ideas, circumvent issues with inventiveness, and has the ability to see the idea to its conclusion.

Often, a cofounder pair can offer this matchup together: one partner will be the creative one, while the other partner will dedicate their efforts into making the idea a reality. Having both traits in one person, then, is a great perk.

Potentially Detrimental Trait Combinations

High Attention-Seeking and Low Honesty
A person who has scored high on Attention-Seeking by itself may not be the worst for your company. However, there is one pairing that makes it a dangerous trait to possess, and that is low Honesty. Combine those two traits, and you will create someone who is willing to lie to get attention, and in the context of entrepreneurship, that may be fatal to your business and partnership. People who scored low in Honesty sometimes are not opposed to cheating, lying, or using others to get ahead, and people who scored high in Attention-Seeking like to be center stage – does that not sound like a lawsuit waiting to happen?

If you do happen to partner with someone as described above, make sure to create processes and make the boundaries of “white lies” well defined, as in, communicate what kind of misinformation or vagueness you are comfortable with when dealing with clients, investors, and the public. Do not trust that they will know the line for themselves, as their traits have them acting in the gray area of truth-telling.

Low Emotional Stability and High Irritability

Being highly irritable can be a problem in a cofounder partnership on its own. Emotions are running high, and you’re going to spend a lot of time together. Irritability, even in its lowest forms (snapping, being curt, getting frustrated easily) will start to chip away at the relationship between cofounders, transforming it into a negative experience. When paired with a low score in Emotional Stability, it means that the frequency of Irritability is higher – it will take less environmental input to lead someone to experience a negative emotion, and in turn, they are more likely to be irritable. This may also lead to complaining, ranting, and general negativity which can bring the mood down in an establishment, even affecting efficiency, morale, and employee mental health.

If your emotional stability is quite high, or you aren’t bothered by someone’s bad moods, great! But consider that you’re likely going to be spending hours of the day with this person, and that your employees will also be subjected to them. If your cofounder is willing, therapy can help with irritability, as well as other practices such as gratitude journaling and anger management. Remember: it’s better to avoid this problem than to try to fix it once it’s already happened, so be proactive!

Low Adaptability and Low Creativity

Entrepreneurship requires both creativity and adaptability, so having a cofounder that has scored low in both of those traits might be a problem for your vision. The last thing you need when building a company is a perpetual nay-sayer, someone who will shut down your ideas, is not willing to take risks, and will not change their frame of mind. Flexibility and inventiveness are the mark of a good entrepreneur, as you never know what will be thrown your way. How many successful companies do you know that started off as a completely different business? Many entrepreneurs have to pivot, adapt, and mold themselves to the market, but without the ability to think outside the box, your company might flop when presented with its first obstacle.

If you or your cofounder have this character makeup, make sure that you are consulting third parties that are able to guide you to a path that might feel unnatural to you. Challenge yourselves to think creatively and leave your comfort zone.

High Sensation-Seeking and Low Self-Control

Entrepreneurs in general could be defined as being more Sensation-Seeking than the average person, and that isn’t a problem. Searching for the highs that entrepreneurship brings is often why people choose that path to begin with, and keep coming back for more. However, when paired with a low score in Self-Control, the combo can make for bad decisions. Self-Control relates to short term desires, from eating another cupcake that you know you shouldn’t, all the way to engaging in illicit substances or dangerous activities. When you mix a cofounder with a low score of Self-Control and a high score in Sensation-Seeking with your business, you risk their impulsive and adventure-seeking behaviors compromising the integrity of your business.

The best course of action to take when you’re faced with this personality combo is to ask about their indulgences point blank. What’s their Honesty score? Many people will choose to lie or omit their behaviors in fear of judgment. If you have a feeling some off-color behavior might happen, make sure to draft a partnership agreement that protects you and the company just in case.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Remember: even if you or your cofounder have all of the negative trait combinations, or only the positive trait combinations, that still means nothing if you’re not intentional about the upkeep of your cofounder relationship. Like any other relationship, the cofounder partnership needs maintenance and work from both parties in order to be healthy. There is always a workaround for any trait, so don’t be dissuaded if your seemingly perfect potential cofounder has a test score that you’re not thrilled about. As long as you implement adequate processes, sign a comprehensive partnership agreement, and both work intentionally towards your common goal, your personality traits shouldn’t be a hindrance in your cofounder relationship!

The Cofounder's

An A-Z guide for those in, or searching for, a business partnership.

The Cofounder’s Handbook provides insight, practical advice, and proven tips from actual real-world cofounders on how to build and maintain a rewarding partnership.

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