Tap into the power of professional mediation to protect your future.
By Cortney E. Young
You’ve done it. You’ve created a viable business. There is light at the end of the tunnel that you’re pretty sure isn’t a train. This is what success feels like. You are flying high… until you’re not.
Inevitably, conflict is a part of everyone’s work and personal lives. It’s what you do with the conflict that will save your business or sink it – especially in a startup. If you don’t control it, and quickly, the risk that you’ll lose everything you’ve worked hard to build is astonishingly high. In fact, 65 percent of high potential startups fail because of co-founder conflict. The good news is you don’t have to be one of them.
Use these tips to safeguard your startup:
Acknowledge the risk: It is part of the human condition to believe bad things won’t happen to you. But bad things do happen. Understanding risk exists is the key to handling conflicts.
Deal with issues quickly: When conflict arises, don’t wait until you can barely look at your co-founder and you haven’t spoken a word to each other in a month. Starting the conversation might be hard but the discomfort is worth it in the long run. Think of it this way: name it to tame it.
How professional mediators begin: Start the conversation by discussing something not related to the business or the issue that is bothering you. Reconnecting will help start the conversation and create an environment where co-founders don’t feel attacked.
Structure a plan: Create a plan that outlines how you’ll deal with difficult situations. This gives you the framework you’ll need when conflict strikes and the only thing you can agree on is that you’ll use the plan.
Good plans include: (1) outlining a structure for frequent communication even on the hard issues, (2) hiring someone who isn’t close to the conflict and, (3) prioritizing your partnership.
It may feel a little like putting the cart before the horse, but some of the biggest success stories have bet on the inevitability of conflict. Implementing a plan for conflict has safeguarded financial and emotional assets time and time again. In fact, the founders of SoulCycle credit their $180M exit, in part, to items two and three on the list.
How’s that for return on investment?
Cortney E. Young is a non-attorney mediator at Blanchard, Krasner & French. Her approach to dispute resolution combines years of litigation experience with a pragmatic problem-solving style. Since 2014 she has been resolving a variety of disputes ranging in value from hundreds of dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars. Chat more about co-founder conflict with Cortney at www.bkflaw.com.