When approached with the proper care and effort, your co-founder relationship can be stronger, and so can your business.
Starting a business is always tough. But, keeping it afloat is even more difficult, and one of the major reasons for business deaths is co-founders not being in a good relationship.
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In a business, you and your co-founder may face plenty of ups and downs. You may run short of money or raise money, you may fire or hire people, or even be on the verge of being bankrupt. Therefore, you will face a lot of business challenges. And, to face all the challenges and overcome them, maintaining a strong and functional relationship with your co-founder is inevitable.
But in many cases, co-founders are seen not getting along with each other. The dispute and argument with each other overtaking decisions or business maintenance, eventually they start drifting apart and ultimately end up splitting.
What most people don’t understand is, every relationship needs maintenance. None of them can be functional and happy unless you work on them. This rule is not about the relationship between co-founders only, it is applicable for all kinds of relationships.
Conflicts between co-founders are normal. Resolving and overcoming those conflicts is the real challenge. Today we are here to give you some tips on how to build-up and maintain a healthy, lasting relationship with your founding team. So, let’s get started!
Maintain Regular Communication And Spend Quality Time With Your Founding Team
For developing a base for trust and to work well together, you need to maintain regular communication with your co-founders. Maintain at least 15minutes of one-on-ones every day and enjoy a founders’ dinner once/twice a month.
While working in a high-stress environment, rising new issues is not uncommon. A relationship doesn’t come to an end over one issue or argument. It deteriorates when all the little things come together at a point when they can not be sorted out. A daily meeting may settle the issues right away and hinders them from further festering.
On the other hand, enjoying dinner together once/twice a month will strengthen the bonds and will allow you to discuss subjects more elaborately.
Start your dinner night with simple friendly conversations about your personal life, your recent vacation, things that you enjoy, or whatever comes to your mind.
Eventually, talk about the business in general, your mission and vision, share your new ideas, discuss the challenges you face. Express all your concerns honestly and clearly. Discuss your employees and their works, whether you need a new one or if any of them needs to be replaced. Moreover, discuss any higher-level factors that need to be changed in near future.
However, don’t just talk about facts and equations, talk about your emotional sides too. What made you anxious? How did you feel about certain things? Has anything caused you to stress? Give your partners the needed support and try to build a friendly relationship.
No matter how well or how long you know each other, to work together, to appreciate and recognize each other’s values, abilities, and skills, regular communication is a must. Make sure to stick to the plan, do not allow any rescheduling.
Learn To Handle Conflicts
From personal disputes to business issues, conflicts can develop from almost anything. No matter where it sprouts from, it always manifests in trust, competence, and communication.
Moreover, uncertainty, limitations of assets, tension, the likelihood of failure, all these are the daily companions of business founders that can bring the worst out of someone. To manage these situations and the disagreements, there are certain strategies you can follow-
- Stick to the main issue. Because, in an argument, it is easy to be emotionally triggered and to put out extreme examples, that can worsen the scenario.
- Do not draw the character of your co-founder in an argument. Only speak about the actions and behaviors that bother you. Make the argument about the fact, not the person.
- Rather than engaging in a blame game, focus on your thoughts and feelings. Do not start blaming your partner based on assumptions. Instead tell them about your thoughts on the current situation, and how their actions make you feel.
- Do not get agitated if the blame is on you. Illustrate your actions politely and calmly, and do not let misunderstandings ruin your relationship.
- Discuss the matter with open-ended questions that can take out meaningful responses from both sides. The objective of these questions should be to understand each other’s viewpoint, not to implore apology or guilt. In business, this can bring about new ideas that can help you scale your business.
Disagreements are bound to happen. You should strive for healthy disagreements that are solution-oriented and bring about new and exciting ideas, instead of undermining what you have built together.
Speak Up And Unload Yourself
Speak up about any behavior or action that has upset you. Do not brush off things, even if they seem petty at the beginning. With time, these little things can accumulate and can threaten your relationship.
We do not forget things. The little issue we brush off today has its way of resurfacing in a few months or even years. You may think that you have found a way to be okay with it, but you are not. Because you never truly resolved the issue.
Therefore, to maintain a healthy relation, talk about everything that bothers you as soon as possible. Face the conflict and resolve it. You will see the effect in five to ten years from now if you do that.
Focus On The Habits With Importance
Maintain the meeting and speaking up tradition with importance, and form this habit from the early days of your business. As the company grows so do responsibilities and disagreements. Making new habits or finding new ways to resolve problems may get difficult at that time.
In the beginning, these may seem unnecessary. However, follow it anyway for the sake of forming the habit. If you don’t create a condition where you can discuss the issues you face, not only regarding the business but also about each other, it will be impossible to retain your business during the days of extreme challenge and turmoil.
As you scale the business, the structure of the company may divide into several departments and you may not be working together as closely as you did before. In such periods, keeping some time aside and interacting with each other becomes even more important.
Forming such habits is one of the most significant factors for the success of your company.
Accept The Diversity Of Your Co-founders
There may be thousands of diversity among you and your co-founders, whereas the only things that must be common are the same mission, vision, goals, and values, as that’s the reason why you would be working with each other in the first place.
Having diversity among the co-founders is not a matter of concern unless it becomes the cause of friction. While appreciating the good qualities of your partner, learn to accept the bad ones as well, even if they drive you crazy at times.
Eventually, you will learn that you are much better together than being apart and will find yourself in a healthy, strong relationship with the founding team.
Accept The Changes As The Company Grows
With the growth of the company, the strengths and flaws of the co-founders may also be transparent. For example, the difficulties a company deals with when they have 10/15 employees are much more different than the difficulties they deal with when they have 100/150 employees. While one co-founder may excel in leadership quality, another one may struggle to cope with the larger company. These pivotal junctures in the company’s growth and the imbalance in the founder’s team can bring friction in the co-founder relationship.
In a state like this, both of you should be tolerant and show empathy towards each other. You should help your partner and give him time to adjust to the situation. Whereas, if you are the one struggling, you should accept the help without any hesitation. These are the times when your understanding and the strength of your relationship will be radiant.
In the end, the success of a lasting co-founder relationship is assessed by how well they manage the conflicts in the company. Conflicts and disagreements are not bad things, it’s the destructive behavior and lack of empathy that ruins the relationship. All the parties must try their best to invest in the relationship. Ultimately, that not only makes the relationship work but also makes the business succeed.