Don’t Be Afraid to Talk

Entrepreneurship is a team game and the relationships between the founding members are key to long term success. What is important is not merely complementary skill sets but similar, or at least complementary visions, values, and styles. Founders need to recognize each others’ value and respect what each brings to the project.

What makes the relationship between founders hard is that often they  start off as best friends or worse still, family. This makes it difficult to discuss the softer issues that need to be brought into the open. Which is a pity because a high percentage of  startups fail because of ruptures in the founding team.

So my advice: don’t postpone talking about the touchy feely stuff till its too late:

1. why are each of you doing this – money, the desire to become a legend, to ‘make a dent in the universe,’( Steve Jobs), to be your own boss

2. what are the core values you want the startup to embody? growth, fair-play, openness

3. What do rules mean to you and how far are you willing to go to bend the rules?

Discussing such things is important right from the word go. Of course there are exceptions. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak fell apart due to a difference in values. In their case I can’t help feeling, given Jobs intransigent personality, that it was best that differences were swept under the carpet in the early years, giving the partnership the longest lease of life it could hope for. What do you think?

And more importantly, how are you feeling about your co-founder right now?

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