When you create a company with someone else, the initial stages require you to work closely together, and eventually a bond forms between you. However, as a business grows, you and your co-founder’s viewpoints may begin to differ. Sometimes this may lead to disagreements between founding members—whether caused by lack of communication or different views on how to expand the organization.
It’s tempting to just chalk these arguments up to strong personalities butting heads, but reconciling these differences is critical for the good of the company. Below, nine professionals from Young Entrepreneur Council offer their insight into how co-founders can maintain a healthy relationship, even while the company grows around them.
1. Ensure 100% Transparency
In any co-founder relationship, there needs to be 100% transparency. If you can’t be honest with each other, then you can’t expect to run a successful company. Both of you need to be on the same page at all times and have enough respect for each other to do so. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
2. Have Regular One-On-One Meetings
Regular one-on-one meetings are key to a healthy co-founder relationship. My business partner and I meet every three months to discuss our personal and business goals and challenges, and offer open and honest feedback about each other. The idea behind the meeting is to flush out any hidden or lingering issues that we may be experiencing between us and just never get to tackle on a day-to-day basis. – Omer Reiner, FL Cash Home Buyers, LLC
3. Establish Clear Responsibilities
Establish clear roles and responsibilities unique to each founder. Maintaining these roles as the business grows is crucial to have a healthy work relationship. At times, I have been in situations where the lines began to blur and I have learned to address the topic right away to reestablish clarity and move forward. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
4. Engage A Mentor Or Business Coach
Engage a mentor and/or business coach right from the start. By nature, entrepreneurs are passionate and, at the end of the day, business decisions are nothing more than “predictions.” As such, it’s imperative to have someone who the owners and leaders respect and to have the tools to foster healthy and honest discussion and debate. If you don’t have that person, passion can turn toxic very quickly! – Bill Mulholland, ARC Relocation
5. Keep The Relationship Professional
Maintain a healthy professional relationship. Do not cross the line by being too close to your co-founder to the point that your rights could be stepped on, because it’s very hard to get out of that zone if that happens. You can always be nice, thoughtful and work harmoniously by keeping in mind that nothing is personal since you are business partners, but you are both human, with a heart and soul. – Daisy Jing, Banish
6. Agree On What Success Looks Like
Agree on what success looks like for the both of you. Fellow leaders typically have the same goal in mind. Make sure everyone is on the same page about how you’re going to achieve that goal. Conflict happens, and unexpected things happen. That’s why it’s important to remember the end goal and brainstorm different strategies to get there so you always have a backup plan. – John Hall, Calendar
7. Use A ‘Veto Jar’
One way my partners and I overcome differences in opinion is by using a veto jar. Each partner has a set number of jelly beans and, when needed, we use them to veto decisions that we don’t agree with. It’s a great nonpartisan way to regulate how many decisions to oppose because when we’re given only a finite amount of jelly beans, the veto must be jelly bean-worthy! – Jacob Tanur, Click Play Films
8. Recognize Your Weaknesses
Recognize your weaknesses, and have two offices. My partner and I work well together because we complement each other so well. My weaknesses are her strengths and vice versa. With that said, I think a lot of bumping heads comes from fear of failure. You have to trust that your partner wants to succeed as much as you do. Then, have separate offices. Everyone needs alone time, even in business. – Zach Binder, Bell + Ivy
9. Know That It’s OK To Disagree
Go ahead and bump heads. You both are smart, confident and brave—otherwise, you wouldn’t be founding a company! Just make sure you both know that it’s OK to disagree with each other. Not only is disagreement OK, but it can also be the spark for discussion and creativity. For example, at my company, my partner and I both created policy from the start that protected and cultivated honest discussion. –Shu Saito, SpiroPure