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Perils of founder fighting  

Mark Suster advises us to bring in third party counselling/coaching when there are founder issues:

If you struggle through similar issues - which means nearly all of you - please consider how and when to bring in help, to embrace mediation. It's hard to be open with your co-founders without somebody helping to broker the conversation. In many cases it's easier if this person isn't a board member or VC unless you have an extremely close or trusting relationship with them. You want to be able to be open without your board members losing confidence in your future.

My suggested approach is to do this much sooner. By the time previously hidden (or previously nonexistent) major founder disagreements come out in the open, it's too late to bring in the doctor. It helps, for sure, and if you can find a good mediator, trusted by both parties, then definitely bring them in. But the time to act is now when there are no problems.

Quoting my own article on the topic:

There are a number of subjects which seem almost embarrassing to discuss when things are going well. For example, "What if one of us decides to pull out?" Your first reaction to this topic might be "What? We're barely getting started, and already we're talking about what happens if one of us pulls out?"

The reality is that people's life circumstances change through time. They get married, or decide to leave the country, or get engrossed in a different pursuit, etc. Many things can get in between a founder and his start-up. Similarly, many things can go very wrong with a start-up. When those things do go wrong, or when one of the founders decides to pull out, is not the time to discuss these things. You need to discuss them with a clear head when no one is thinking of pulling out and the business looks healthy and hopeful.

Discuss those things early, following the steps in my article. It's easy, if slightly odd, at the beginning. Then you won't have to start thinking about bringing in a mediator when the shit hits the fan.

More from the library:
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Startup sales: #1: Map your sales process
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