I would be lying if I said that your relationship with your co-founder will always be easy and amicable. It’s just like any other close relationship you have in your life: there are good moments, and there are times where you are going to disagree.
My co-founder Jade Driver and I own Crowd Surf at an even 50/50 split, so it’s important that we make decisions that both of us are happy with, and that keep our company operating and moving forward.
We’ve had our hiccups over the past eight years, but have always figured out how to make it work by keeping these best practices in mind.
1. Always listen
When working with your co-founder, it’s important to make sure that both of you are respectful and really listen to one and other. You don’t necessarily have to agree, but it’s important to truly empathize and understand why your co-founder feels a certain way.
Once you have both heard each other out, move forward with the decision. There have been many times when I wanted to keep a project on our roster and Jade did not (and vice versa).
However, after thoroughly listening to each other, we often realized that one of us has a better handle on how a client is helping or hurting our company. Then we get on the same page and make a prompt decision to move forward.
2. Start with respect
Respect each other’s strengths and know your own weaknesses. One of the reasons Jade and I have been able to work together for such a long period of time is that we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
If we know that our disagreement falls more into one of our individual areas of expertise, we generally let that person handle the situation and resolve the problem. We’re honest with each other (and ourselves) in regard to where we excel, and this helps us peacefully and efficiently resolve issues.
3. Ask a third party
When I say ask a third party, I don’t mean one of your mutual friends. The experts you hire to consult you on the daily operations of your business are generally good for this type of role.
If it’s a financial decision, bring in your business management team. If it’s about a contract or potential new client, bring in your lawyer. When you bring in a third party for their opinion, it’s important for you and your business partner to both be on the phone, meeting, or e-mail together while speaking to the third party about the issue.
Complete transparency is key, and it’s important that the third party is equally hearing both sides of the argument. Make sure that all of the parties involved are playing fair and are working quickly towards resolving a problem.
4. Keep the end game in mind
Keep the company’s best interest at heart. It’s important that the disagreement doesn’t turn into a situation where both of you are trying to be right. The goal should be to always do what’s in the best interest of the company, not the individual.
If both co-founders keep this in mind, disagreements will resolve themselves in an amicable and impactful way.
It’s inevitable that two passionate, smart and motivated business people are going to get into arguments. However, the one great thing we’ve found about our disputes is that we always manage to solve the problem, and it keeps our company moving forward.
Disagreements are truly a blessing in disguise, as they force a decision to be made. They demonstrate that your company isn’t stagnant, and that in itself is something we’ve always been grateful for. No disagreements generally means there’s nothing going on, and that’s detrimental for entrepreneurs.
Always look at the positives of resolving and moving past an agreement, and you’ll feel a sense of relief and respect for your business partner.
This article has been edited.