How to resolve cofounder disputes

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There are many options. choose wisely. conflict is the least wise use of your resources.

In the spirit of hope for the best and be prepared for the worst, it is unrealistic to expect that during your business partnership your team will not encounter disagreements and conflict. And it is not a bad thing! It brings an opportunity to surface underlying tension, improve understanding and self-knowledge and, if done well, increase the team’s cohesion.

Depending on how serious the disagreement is, it is good to know which options you have to resolve conflicts and what is your team’s preference on conflict resolution when it occurs. 

Conflicts are typically not a pleasant experience and depending on the maturity and awareness of the participants, they can lead to very different outcomes. One possible outcome could be a renewed sense of purpose and motivation and better team performance. The other, depending on the nature of the conflict, is slow or quick deterioration of the team, possibly leading to an end of it. The choice is yours and depends a lot on how you prepare your team for the possibility of the conflict before it happens as well as how you deal with the conflict when it happens. As much as easy paths typically do not lead to interesting locations, conflicts, however unpleasant, do offer an opportunity for your cofounding team to emerge stronger out of them.

The full range is from internal negotiation to external litigation. And they differ in many things, mainly:

  • Your involvement as opposed to involvement of other parties

  • Amicable versus adversarial – are you resolving the conflict together as a team or are you standing on opposite sides blaming each other?

  • Required resources – time, energy, money

  • The ability of the team to continue working together after the conflict is resolved

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Which one is the best for you and your team depends on how far in the conflict you are and what is the conflict about. 


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Jana NevrlkaCofounding