Co-Founder Dating: what you should know

 Looking for business partnersYou Are Ready To Make Your Next Million
You have a great idea for a new business, an invention, an iPhone app, or you are ready to create the next Internet. Now all you need is a partner, or maybe even partners*, to bring your vision to life. How should you go about looking? How can you lower the risk of choosing poorly?
(*Check out this blog on the 4 crucial roles in a start up.

Clarity Improves the Odds of Finding the Right Partner
There are many issues to consider when deciding whom to work with. You have to consider skill sets, experience, availability and ambition. You also must consider the all-important issue of temperament. Someone who has the first four qualifications but lacks the ability to get along and work without undue conflict with others will result in a dismal and often costly counterproductive situation.

One way to learn about choosing partners is from the mistakes of others.  I am currently collecting anecdotal summaries and reports on this topic from those who have experienced the phenomenon and I strongly recommend you do the same. Social science also has much to say about this. Some of the existing research tells us that:

  • Partnerships are not a soft option but hard work;
  • Partnerships take time to develop;
  • Partnerships must be realistic and aim for what can be achieved, not be set up to fail by being too ambitious;
  • Partnerships can, if successful, achieve more than individual agencies working alone.
    (How to create successful partnerships—a review of the literature, Wildridge, Childs, Cawthra, Madge; Health Information & Libraries Journal, 2004)

Among some of my findings on the nature of why partnerships fail  is that people mistake partnerships as something that will make their lives easier. The reality is, that most of the time, partnerships make life harder and the most compelling reason to add such a burden to one’s life is because the two parties (or more) can create something together that they could not create alone. Having clarity about the value of that potential creation is necessary for overcoming the added difficulty of the partnership. 

Allow Patience to Temper Enthusiasm
Many partnerships have begun on the best of intentions based on apparent compatibility among associates and then somehow degraded into conflict and discontent.

One clue is in the concept of “apparent compatibility’. Sometimes this apparent compatibility is actually the product of your enthusiasm. Enthusiasm can mask potential flaws in prospective partners and associates. This also happens in romantic relationships when the initial chemistry fails to reveal psychological differences between partners. In both situations the heady hopes that this person is “the one” clouds your ability to discern.

Sometimes excitement about an idea makes you feel desperate to find someone with whom you can develop the idea further. You may meet someone who seems perfect because of his or her talent or experience but this is where you must learn to exercise patience. Ask yourself how you really feel about this person. If they did have the expertise or resource that is exciting you, consider whether you would want them as a friend? Would you want to spend a lot of time with them? Get the opinion of others who know you and who may have an easier time being objective.

Natural Language Sessions and the Transcript Solution
Dorene Lehavi, Ph.D. (a principal of Next Level Business and Professional Coaching) has talked about the negative impacts of money problems, partners with control issues, and conflict due to changing vision. (http://successfulbusinesspartnership.blogspot.com/)

Part of what contributes to future conflict is the optimism and enthusiasm of a new venture. Filled with hope and aspiration, cofounders, new partners, closely involved investors and principal stakeholders layout a blueprint for the future; one made of projections, business plans, corporate bylaws, shareholder agreements, etc.…  In this prospect filled process, difficult and potentially painful questions go unanswered.

Taking the time to sit together and answer questions that the Atman Approach provides can go a long way to reducing future pain and even untimely death to a viable project. The Atman Approach uses automated (or when possible live) facilitation through questionnaires. Often the process can seem almost like a therapy session. It is not. It is, however, a vital means of uncovering unseen emotional hazards early on and making provisions for them.

Money is usually the biggest cause of future conflict. So in the Natural Language Session we give that issue the most attention. For example the questionnaire takes future partners through a number of scenarios to develop a clear strategy for overcoming such situations.

The process uses natural or conversational language. The whole session is recorded and a transcript is produced. This transcript is then delivered to the attorney for the business entity and a legal document, partner agreement; additions to bylaws, etc.… are drafted. This turns the frank and open-hearted discussion into a far more mature legal framework for the venture. This type of preemptive work has the potential to save money and cut the likelihood of future heartache.

Reminders

  • While part of the issue is choosing well a more significant part to building successful partnership is in the execution of the relationship
  • Refining intuition is possible and when combined with hard data can make you a better judge of character. (Face reading and empathy can help with this.)
  • Seeing people as conscious beings who are struggling due to a misplaced sense of self provides a new platform for understanding emotions and motivational needs
  • Partnerships require resilience and adaptive expectations
  • Pick partners that you like. Are they someone you want to do social things with?
  • Learn more about how face reading can make you a better judge of future partners and employees here.
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