Failures in communication between the founders can lead a company to failure. Learn to handle them.
The opinions expressed by employees are personal.
When Ari Mir and Amos Elliston met as colleagues in a startup in Los Angeles, California, they instantly clicked and began sharing ideas to create a joint venture. Seven years later they launched Pocket Change, a firm that seeks to create a reward system through applications on smartphones.
Launched in 2012, this company has raised USD $ 5 million in venture capital. Although both Elliston and Mir enjoy each other's company, they both agree that the success of their society is due to the fact that they have established limits and that they have kept their personal lives out of business.
This division between life and work limits exaggerations when it comes to business-related issues, says Mir. “We are not best friends,” he says. “You need to have a certain distance or you will always take things to a personal level.”
Disagreements and discussions between co-founders can sink the company, even before it starts. That's why we share four ways to handle this relationship:
Get the perspective of a third party
Most startups do not have an administrative council, but this does not mean that they do not need to have the point of view of someone outside. It is recommended that the founders meet monthly to analyze the goals of the company and the challenges facing two or three mentors.
Presenting these issues to a third party helps prevent partners from accusing each other of making wrong decisions. For example, partners who disagree about the price of their product may present this dilemma to their mentors (with their respective arguments), instead of having a conflict between them.
Having this habit also helps founders get a fresh perspective on their decisions, since mentors and advisors are not part of the day-to-day business.
Solve problems before they happen
As they develop a Business Plan, it is a good idea for the founders to sit together to discuss possible problems and think about solutions before they occur.
For example, they could establish the time that each partner should remain in the business and how personal problems, such as illness, will be handled. It is also important to discuss when and how each founder will be paid and the strategies to grow the business. It could happen that one of the partners preferred to keep the profits, while the other bet to reinvest them to grow.
Taking enough time to talk about what is important for everyone can prevent future conflicts and communication failures. It is better that you do this exercise in the beginning, when both are excited and committed to the company.
Define the responsibilities of each
If any of the founders is not “pulling evenly”, resentment can be generated between them. One way to avoid this situation is to distribute the work and assign responsibilities to each member.
This can be achieved with a brief weekly meeting where the workload is discussed. Attention will be reduced and the strengths of each partner will be better utilized. For example, instead of dividing tasks in half (if they are two partners), one of them could focus on marketing, while the other does it on operations. Clearly, this division is made based on the qualities of each founder.
Consider all partners in decision making
For many business partners, making even the smallest business decisions can become a painful and slow process that slows the company's trajectory. Learning how to negotiate effectively with your co-founders will help you avoid potential problems.
When negotiating an important decision, it is recommended that partners focus on the objectives, and not on other issues. For example, if you want to grab money from the company to pay off the company's debts, make a list of the benefits of doing so. When you arrive at the negotiating table, discuss ways to reach this goal.
It is also important to avoid another mistake: give concessions without receiving anything in return. If, suppose, they are about to make a decision related to hiring an employee, a partner might want to hire someone for whom the other is not so sure. One solution could be to define a three month trial period. Thus, both sides win.