Scott Wylie, co-founder at PayHere, explains how he shares leadership and manages as a co-founder.
PayHere is a startup that seeks to streamline the process of chasing online payments. Users can create either a one-off, recurring or customer-selected payment link to be shared over the internet. Scott launched the business in 2018 with Pete Hawkins and it has since expanded to 73 countries.
I’m in the fortunate position that my co-founder and I were in business long before we founded PayHere. We ran a software development agency that created Minimum Viable Products for startups. So, when it came time to founding PayHere, we already understood each other’s strengths, weaknesses and complementary skills. Pete is a technical expert, a full-stack developer, who has been creating websites since he was a teenager. I come from a sales background, and have only a bit of technical experience.
Our relationship is based on trust. We decide everything together. It only takes a couple of seconds to fire a message off on Slack, we either agree or disagree, and then go down that path. Being able to bounce ideas off each other like this is a great way to be confident in your decision-making. It effectively doubles your mental capacity.
We’ve also found that having a complementary set of skills is particularly useful when selling to both technical and non-technical people. Pete can provide the mechanical explanation of what we do at PayHere, whereas I can talk about things from a sales perspective. We also take time to learn from one another so we can operate on a unified front. This blended approach to leadership informs the vision for the business and how we present and cater to our customers.
Diagreements and consistency
When we do disagree, we try to assess whether the thing we’re discussing is good for the business or not. Is the idea something we think will help the business? Is it something that won't help the business?
And then we try to look at the problem objectively. We go down to the granular level of making a pros and cons list. That takes the decision-making out of your hands in terms of bias and opinion so that you can look at the facts.
The most important thing is for co-founders to have the same vision and be on the same page. Pete and I very much know where we want to take the business. We know what our life goals are away from the business as well, so we’re very much working towards the same thing.
When one of our employees comes to us with a question, they’re going to get the same message. Making sure our goals are aligned is crucial for us to keep moving forward and growing a successful business.
Have a clear vision
PayHere is bootstrapped and driven on revenue, so we have a bit more freedom in terms of leadership. The people who work with us know where we want to go and what we need to do to get there. We have very clearly defined outputs and goals and that makes it very easy to lead a team.
The other big thing is communication. As I said, we do like to run things past each other. Certainly, you can make decisions on the smaller things by yourself, but we always discuss significant matters and our communication is always open. If there’s anything one of us is struggling to decide upon, we’ll pop out for a coffee and discuss the issue before it grows out of control.
Equally, if you have a problem it’s important to talk about it straight away. Don’t let it linger. More often than not, the issue is quickly resolved and we all move forward for the betterment of the business. Whenever co-founders grow apart, it’s often because of a lack of communication or because their goals were no longer aligned.